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Wizard of Wishaw can cast a spell on Anthony McGill

Magician Murphy ready to wave his magic wand

John Higgins has his eyes on the Masters prize
1 of 1

First-round matches
S Murphy v A Carter | BBC2 & Eurosport 2, 1pm

Shaun Murphy is enjoying a pretty decent season and that looks set to continue when he takes on Ali Carter at Alexandra Palace. 

Murphy landed the Champion of Champions event earlier this season and made the final of the China Championship and Paul Hunter Classic. It took an inspired Ronnie O'Sullivan to make the Magician disappear in the final of the Betway UK Championship in December and the 2005 world champion is playing somewhere near his best. 

That hasn't been missed by the layers, who make Murphy a 1-2 shot against Carter, and while there isn't much juice in those prices perhaps Betway have been a little generous in offering 17-20 that the Magician's wand makes a break of 99 or more. 

There were ten centuries after the first four first-round matches on the Ally Pally table, which seems to be playing rather generously, and a top break-builder such as Murphy will not need a second invitationto add to that total. 

Recommendation
S Murphy highest break over 98.5
1pt 17-20 Betway


J Higgins v A McGill | BBCi & Eurosport 2, 7pm

Considering John Higgins is one of the greatest players to pick up a cue he doesn't have the best of records in the Masters, but he looks a good bet to see off fellow Scot Anthony McGill in comfortable fashion. 

Higgins hasn't won more than a single match at the London invitational in any of the last five years, but quotes of 1-3 look to seriously underrate the Wizard of Wishaw's chances of coming though this time, and BoyleSports' offer of 4-7 about Higgins giving McGill a 1.5-frame start looks fantastic value.

Last year's Betfred World Championship finalist is still one of the game's finest cuemen and he showed all his class when landing the Indian Open in September. 

Higgins made the semi-final of last month's Scottish Open suggesting his form is not on the wane and he should be too strong for McGill, who had a poor finish to 2017, and recently failed to qualify for the German Masters after losing to Jimmy White.

Recommendation
J Higgins -1.5 frames
4pts 4-7 BoyleSports


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Higgins made the semi-final of last month's Scottish Open suggesting his form is not on the wane
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