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Neil Robertson man to beat in World Snooker Championships

With the 76th edition of the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible due to start on the 20th of April the time has come to assess the relative chances of the world’s finest cuemen. Countless ex-champions are in the mix and last year’s winner Ronnie O’Sullivan – 7/1 to defend his title with Coral – is amongst them after deciding to end a sabbatical from the sport that begun in November.

Mark Selby and 2010 champion Neil Robertson have been duelling at the top of both the world rankings and the money list since last year’s tournament. The former is 6/1 favourite in what is crowded scene at the summit of the World Snooker Championships betting, followed by Robertson and O’Sullivan at 13/2 and Judd Trump at 7/1.

Selby, known as the Jester From Leicester, racked up a hat-trick of wins around the turn of the year including big money successes in the UK Championship and the Masters, but his form has tailed off slightly as the year has progressed with a China Open final defeat to Neil Robertson the only time he’s gone deeper than the quarter final level in his last seven tournaments.

In contrast Neil Robertson has been reaching the last four with consistency in recent months, reaching at least the semi final in five of his last seven tournaments.

Judd Trump briefly displaced Selby at the top of the world rankings, but the Juddernaut has been anything but unstoppable since a golden 2011 that saw him reach the final of this event.  The Bristol-native has reached just four finals in the 28 tournaments since, winning half of them.

As a four-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan must be respected despite a hiatus from top level action that has spanned half a year, doubly so as he is the sole multiple finalist since 1969 (when snooker’s modern era began) never to have lost in World Championships final. However the nature of his task is illustrated by the fact reigning champions have defended their crowns just twice since 1977.

O’Sullivan’s fellow four-time winner John Higgins is having a quiet year by his own high standards, with the World Open semi-final his best 2013 finish, but at 10/1 the Wizard of Wishaw looks an attractive price in a tournament in which he’s won three of the last six renewals.