Murphy, Robertson, Selby are main dangers to Rocket for Welsh Open
There is no better way to seal snooker success than by recording a maximum break to win a tournament. And that is exactly what reigning Welsh Open champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, 7/2 favourite with Coral to keep hold of the trophy and win a fourth title, did in Newport last year.
It’s the capital of Wales, Cardiff, that cue sport stars and fans will descend upon this week, however, after the event moved venues. Since losing 9-3 in Newport to ‘the Rocket’, Ding Junhui (12/1 to go one better this year) has failed to win a major ranking tournament outside of Asia.
Chinese Sensation Junhui’s struggle to make an impact at big events, failing to get past round three at the UK Championship between first hurdle falls at the Crucible last season and the Masters in January, mean those odds for him to stop the rot don’t look nearly long enough.
If it’s not Ding that is a danger to O’Sullivan dominance, then who is? Rotherham native Shaun Murphy completed the career triple crown in this sport by adding the Masters to previous UK and world titles, and ‘the Magician’, beaten Welsh Open finalist in 2006, is 9/1 to add this trophy to his CV.
World number one Mark Selby, nicknamed ‘the Jester from Leicester’, put some pretty comical early season form behind him by beating Murphy 9-7 in the German Masters final in the last tournament, however. A loser to Ding at this event in 2012, Selby is an 8/1 shot to go one better this year.
Those hoping Welsh natives Mark Williams (50/1), Ryan Day (100/1) and Matthew Stevens (150/1) can end a near 20-year wait for a homegrown winner would be advised not to stake too much on either of the above.
Australian sportsmen have been in the spotlight throughout 2015 so far. The Socceroos won the Asian Cup in football on home soil, and England’s Cricket World Cup got off to a heavy defeat at the MCG.
Can ‘the Thunder from Down Under’ Neil Robertson repeat his Masters semi-final win over world number two Rocket Ronnie? If he does, then odds of 7/1 for the Aussie to be Welsh Open champion for a second time are well worth taking.