John Higgins (@1.66) vs Barry Hawkins (@2.2)
11-09-2019

Our Prediction:

John Higgins will win

John Higgins – Barry Hawkins Match Prediction | 11-09-2019 07:30

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The Scots superior head-to-head record against Bingham, winning eight of their previous 11 fixtures, would indicate that the 43 year-old possibly has the number of the 2015 world champion. That he emerged from his initial task with a strong display against Mark Davis will be of some cause for concern for his rivals. Bingham, with a brace of ranking titles to his credit this term, is a dark horse for this years title but Higgins credentials are vast and the longer he remains in the hunt the more dangerous a predator hell become. Against John Higgins, the Englishman will face a formidable opponent who is attempting to rediscover his winning mentality after a season of inner struggle. Higgins, of course, is a four-time champion but lost in each of the last two finals in Sheffield. Higgins is a player who has been written off on so many occasions, only to predominantly bounce back and show his pedigree for the big-time. In an illustrious quarter of the draw that is packed with four former world champions, its important not to underestimate anyone. Stuart Bingham said that he felt like he lost despite surviving a late onslaught from Graeme Dott to prevail in a Crucible classic.

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But surely the most eye-catching of them all is the meeting between Judd Trump and Ding Junhui. Trump was fortunate that his opponent Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, blessed with talent though he may be, cracked under the pressure as the winning line came into view. In the past, this might have troubled Trump but the 2011 runner-up, a year in which he beat Ding in a truly memorable semi-final affair, boasts a much more rounded temperament now and is less likely to be as fazed by such taxing tactics. Ding, on the other hand, has achieved nothing of note since reaching the final of last seasons World Grand Prix. The Chinese number ones game has transformed over the years and, although he still has the ability to score heavily, Ding relies far too heavily on winning frames that become drawn out and scrappy. The 29 year-old secured glory in two ranking events either side of his landmark January triumph in the Masters at Ally Pally. There are compelling ties all the way through the World Snooker Championship last 16 draw. Reflecting on the campaign overall, however, and it is easier to come up with the conclusion that the Englishman is the man more likely to progress. In judgement of their first round matches alone, Ding would probably have just about swung it. Two of this eras best cueists to never etch their names onto the most prestigious silverware, one of them will be left disappointed again for another year.

After a dreadful season, Murphy will be buoyed by his first round performance but what can really be learned from that? Robertson is undoubtedly one of the favourites for this years crown after reaching the final in the last four ranking events he contested during the campaign, while capturing two trophies. Simply, the answer is no. The true test of his renewed form will now ultimately be put to the test. The second battle of former world champions in this bracket sees Shaun Murphy face the man in form Neil Robertson. The Australians only defeats in that spell were to Ronnie OSullivan and that obstacle has already been taken care of. Has there ever been a World Snooker Championship last 16 clash that has featured two players who have conceded so few frames? Robertson hasnt really threatened properly at the Crucible since his triumph nine years ago so, in many respects, its about time he made a return to the latter stages. Murphy inflicted the first bagel at the Crucible in 27 years on poor Luo Honghao while Robertson almost repeated the trick against Michael Georgiou, letting the side down by dropping the penultimate frame en route to a 10-1 hiding of the Cypriot.

The Glaswegian, somewhat like Trump and Ding, has been a failure in this tournament after a career full of early promise. The 23 year-old has been constantly in demand and in the news, so it is a wonder how he will have managed to maintain his focus with another tough match to come. So much attention has surrounded James Cahills upset of the pre-tournament favourite. An unbelievable fluke led to his turnaround and Maguire will be thinking that this is a golden opportunity to make a return to the second week of the championship. Cahill, the first amateur to ever qualify, has never before contested a match of this length and, at any rate, it generally proves difficult for giant-killers to substantiate their initial surprise in the following round. Maguire lost six out of the eight first round ties he played in the World Championship before this year and it looked like 2019 was going to follow a similar path when he needed snookers from 9-7 behind against Tian Pengfei. Stephen Maguire, who three times lost to OSullivan in prior World Championships, must have been secretly delighted with the result that sent the Rocket packing. Cahill was underestimated once so its important not to make that mistake again, but Maguire would still be expected to take advantage.

Mark Selby vs Gary Wilson

The only time weve seen him on the match table in a match he has known he has had to play very well to win was against Bingtao when he slammed in runs of 137 and 141 in a dominant win. In his two finals last year he made five centuries in one and covered this line in the other. Hawkins is no stranger to nailing centuries against Higgins so over the course of the 17 frames I fancy hell produce one huge break at some point. I will go with one bet though which is for Barry Hawkins to put in a break of 102 or more.

It might sound obvious to say but, like Higgins in the opposite side of the draw, the further Selby advances the more credible a serious contender hes going to become. The latter was delighted to edge Luca Brecel in a gruelling last frame to move beyond the opening hurdle for the first time in his career. Wilson is a solid competitor but is lacking in every department when compared to the world number two. Mark Selby successfully negotiated a potential banana skin in the last 32 when he fought back from 5-1 down to deny the talented Zhao Xintong. Potential quarter-final opponent Mark Allen bowed out on Wednesday and Selbys next challenger is a player hes never lost to. In a repeat of the 2015 China Open final, Selby entertains fellow Englishman Gary Wilson. Now that the three-time world champion is up and running, he could become a more formidable proposition, particularly as his draw is becoming kinder and kinder by the day. Yet, even though Selbys form has been patchy for quite some time, its difficult to envisage him slipping up here.

He has scored generally well and when the balls havent gone as liked he has played smart snooker which has served him good. Hawkins has come through the draw pretty well this week and in Martin Gould and Yan Bingtao he saw off some competent opposition as well as taking advantage of a couple of favourable draws along the way.

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In Stephen Maguire and Ronnie OSullivan he has seen off a couple of standout performers and while he wasnt at his best in the semi-final he acknowledged after the match that the pressure of expectation was a reason for that. He seemed pretty confident he would play better in this final and we should take him on his word. Higgins has looked very good this week.

One of those title deciders was against Williams, when the Welshman stormed back from 9-5 behind to deny the Englishman his maiden success in a decider. One wonders whether that result will have an impact on this match too. Gilbert is well capable of living with the three-time champion but the experience of Williams, not to mention his coolness under pressure, is what tips this outcome in his favour. While reigning champion Williams is no stranger to this set-up, Gilbert has reached this stage for only the second time in his career. The 37 year-old is in the form of his life, breaking into the top 16 for the first time and reaching two ranking event finals during this campaign. The duo was generally in control of their ties but still received a strong workout ahead of the second round, where the format will increase to the best of 25 frames played across three sessions. Mark Williams and David Gilbert both booked their spots in the World Snooker Championship last 16 with hard-fought 10-7 victories.