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Higgins hot favourite to lift Welsh Open with Woollaston win

John Higgins is odds-on at 8/15 with Coral to end a wait to win a major tournament on British soil since capturing the World Championship in 2011 by adding a fourth Welsh Open title to his CV.

‘The Wizard of Wishaw’ faces Leicester potter Ben Woollaston, a name punters could be forgiven for never hearing as this is his first televised final in the sport.

History and experience favour veteran Scottish player Higgins, who has beaten his opponent in both of their previous head-to-heads. He will have to respect Woollaston, however, as a number of giant-killings have occurred en route to the final.

Woollaston, a 6/4 outsider for another shock, knocked out established snooker names Mark Allen and Ali Carter before edging out home crowd favourite Mark Williams 6-5 in his semi-final.

Higgins’ own passage was far smoother, aided by further high-profile exits in Cardiff. Other than a quarter-final clash with compatriot Stephen Maguire, he faced no other quality opposition, but had to put down spirited resistance in the last four from Belgian baize player Luca Brecel, making three centuries as the Wizard ran out a 6-4 winner.

The Welsh Open final is a best of 17 frames affair, and this longer format is sure to suit four-time former world champions Higgins. Punters will not be surprised to learn he is odds-on in both the race to four and eight frames markets.

Making any sort of case for Woollaston revolves entirely around him maintaining the mentality he’s adopted in this amazing run. He has to play without fear, and is guaranteed to shoot up snooker’s world rankings no matter what the outcome.

That might be a worthy second prize to winning the Welsh Open, a tournament Higgins has tasted on three previous occasions, including in consecutive years (2010 and 2011).

Odds on the scoreline suggest Woollaston will only upset the Wizard if it’s a close-run thing. It’s 17/4 that this year’s final goes the distance to a deciding frame, and Higgins is a 7/1 shot to emerge victorious by a 9-6 margin.