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Ding gets World Snooker title tilt underway with Mark Davis opener

The Crucible has been a cruel venue to Ding Junhui. Ranked the third best cueman on this planet and nicknamed ‘the Chinese Sensation’, Ding has based himself in Sheffield when competing in Britain previously, but he’s yet to make the World Snooker Championship final in what is a home from home for him.

Coral make Junhui, whose best Crucible return has been a semi-final outing in 2011, a 14/1 shot to lift the richest prize in the baize sport this season. His first round fixture on day three of this year’s tournament pairs him with world number 18 Mark Davis.

This might be the perfect opener for Ding, who just needs a Crucible triumph to complete a career triple crown, as he not only holds a victory over Davis in Sheffield, but beat him at the China Open earlier this month.

All that previous explains an odds-on 1/3 price for Junhui to win their encounter. Davis is a 9/4 outsider to pull off a shock, though punters should note Ding has fallen at the first hurdle in two of the last three seasons when coming to the Crucible.

Taking even-money on Junhui winning and making the highest match break is much more attractive, while a repeat of his 10-6 victory from the 2007 event is a 7/1 shot.

Elsewhere in round one, Alan McManus may fancy his chances of upsetting former two-time Crucible finalist and 13th seed Ali Carter. The Scot, nicknamed ‘Angles’, has won both of the last two head-to-heads.

That makes McManus tempting at 7/4 to upset ‘the Captain’, though Carter is 11/10 for victory and to make the biggest break of this battle.

Reigning Shanghai Masters champion and world number 10 Stuart Bingham, meanwhile, is a strong, but worthy odds-on 1/7 favourite to beat qualifier Robbie Williams, as he has never lost to him. Coral customers can enhance the price for ‘Ball-run’ Bingham to win to 1/3, if you back him to make the highest break.