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Rocket readies bid to regain Crucible crown while Allen battles Day

For the first time in his glittering green baize career, Ronnie O’Sullivan lost a World Snooker Championship final last year to Mark Selby, yet is Coral’s 2/1 favourite to regain the crown and be a six-time winner.

‘Rocket’ Ronnie gets his Sheffield surge off with a first round fixture on day four against qualifier Craig Steadman, whose career best at a major tournament was a last 16 appearance at the 2014 China Open. O’Sullivan is massively odds-on at 1/25 to beat the Farnworth-born potter, while a 10-0 whitewash in this encounter is an 18/1 chance.

Making a case for Steadman to shock the Rocket is nigh on impossible, especially at odds of 14/1. To his credit, world number 81 ‘Rock-Steady’ beat Michael White to get to the Crucuble, but he faces snooker’s modern day genius here.

O’Sullivan’s strong price is eased somewhat if punters take 1/6 on victory with Ronnie making the best break of this seemingly straightforward battle.

Elsewhere on day four, there is intrigue aplenty underpinning match-ups between Mark Allen and Ryan Day, and Wales duo Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens, who contested the final 15 years ago.

World number 12 Allen, nicknamed ‘the Pistol’, has also met Day at the Crucible before, winning 13-11 in the 2009 quarters. The Belfast baize player edges his Welsh opponent 9-8 on previous head-to-heads, and also holds a victory over Day last month.

This explains why Allen is odds-on at 2/5 to advance. Day is a danger at 15/8, though, and punters can enhance their respective prices by backing the potter you fancy to win and also make the highest break.

In this special market, the Pistol is 11/10, while Day is delightful at 6/1. Odds of 24/5 for this to go to a deciding frame are also well worth considering, especially when considering the close history between Allen and his opponent.

Williams, meanwhile, is ranked 14th in the world (though seeded 15), and holds a 12-9 advantage over compatriot Stevens from previous meetings, including victories in all of the last five, so is odds-on at 2/5 to win again.

Stevens has lost a UK Championship final to ‘the Welsh Potting Machine’ as well as two Masters meetings, so he’s struggled when facing Williams at triple crown event. This may explain his outsider status at 15/8.

Like Allen above, punters prepared to back Williams may as well take the enhanced 11/10 price on victory and their pick to produce the highest break of this all-Wales clash.