Rocket Ronnie faces Stuart Bingham battle in UK snooker semis
Ronnie O’Sullivan, Coral’s odds-on 4/5 favourite to win their sponsored UK Championship snooker, has suffered just two career losses to Stuart Bingham in 11 head-to-heads, but both of those have been at this event in the last four years.
Their semi-final duel at York’s Barbican Centre is, contesting the 2013 Champion of Champions title apart, the most prestigious meeting between ‘the Rocket’ and ninth seed Bingham, a 27/10 match outsider and 10/1 tournament chance.
Basildon-born baize player Bingham edged former world champion Graeme Dott in a deciding frame to advance from the quarter-finals. A repeat scoreline of 6-4 from his last eight win over O’Sullivan from 2013 is 11/1 here, while an 18/5 price says their latest encounter will go the distance.
Snooker genius O’Sullivan is an odds-on 2/7 favourite to triumph and clear this penultimate hurdle, despite sporting a protective brace on his broken ankle, en route to a fifth UK title. The Rocket, who first won this crown way back in 1993, turned 39 on the day he knocked out plucky up-and-coming Scottish potter Anthony McGill, running out a 6-4 quarter-final winner.
Having made a maximum 147 clearance in his last 16 whitewash of Matthew Selt, Rocket Ronnie is better value if punters back him to beat Bingham and make the highest break of their semi at 5/6.
In the other side of the draw, UK champions from 2011 and 2004 collide as 2/1 tournament second-favourite Judd Trump and 9/1 chance Stephen Maguire meet. Historically, the Glaswegian has been a thorn in the side of ‘Naughty Snooker’, winning 10 of their 14 head-to-heads.
Trump did beat ‘on fire’ Maguire, who came through a tough examination by Marco Fu 6-4 to set this semi up, en route to lifting this trophy three years ago, though. Odds of 5/1 say he will defeat the Scottish potter by the same scoreline of 6-3.
Punters convinced by Maguire’s previous record in encounters with ‘the Ace in the Pack’ should take a tempting price of 7/4 on him beating the 11th seed again, or pile money on a matchday special of 5/1 on victory and the fiery Scot making the highest break.
Bristol boy Trump, who strolled to a 6-1 victory over Mark Davis in the quarters, is the odds-on 4/9 favourite (again better value at 6/5 to win and make the biggest break) to advance to the final. This evening session semi makes for some fantastic viewing and could be a close run thing.