Selby and Ding start second round off at Coral UK Championship
Last season, Mark Selby completed the career triple crown in snooker by winning the World Championship at the Crucible. En route to that victory in Sheffield, though, he ceded the UK crown to Neil Robertson.
Now, 63 other men stand between ‘the Jester from Leicester’ and him regaining this title. Selby is a best price 8/1 with Coral to win the UK Championship, which they sponsor, for the second time.
Facing him in round two is Ireland’s world number 63 David Morris, who will be worried that Selby opened his campaign in York by whitewashing qualifier Oliver Brown. A repeat 6-0 win for the 2013 champion is a 13/2 chance.
Selby is odds-on at 1/9 for this match with Morris, and this is little hope for the Kilkenny native at 6/1 to upset ‘the Jester’.
Also in action is two-time UK champion Ding Junhui, with ‘the Chinese sensation’ facing snooker legend Jimmy White. This exciting clash between the sport’s past and present was played at this stage of this tournament back in 2005.
Back then, it was the first to nine frames, but only six are needed here to advance to round three. Ding defeated ‘the Whirlwind’ 9-3 en route to his first UK crown, and is a strong odds-on 1/9 favourite to end White’s renaissance.
Like Selby, the Chinese cueman whitewashed his first round opponent, while 1992 winner White defeated Dave Harold 6-2. Odds of 6/1 say ‘the Whirlwind’ can cause another upset, and this is a must-watch match for snooker fans.
Ding remains among the favourites to win this tournament, however, at 7/1, and holds a historical 4-1 advantage in previous head-to-heads with a decisive format with White.
Three-time UK champion John Higgins clashes with Stoke potter Jamie Cope, who knocked him out of this competition in the early rounds of the 2007 edition. Since then, however, ‘the Wizard of Wishaw’ has won five of their six meetings.
Cope was one a top 16 player, but languishes way down in 53rd on the world rankings. As a result, a repeat shock seven years on is a 9/4 chance, with Higgins odds-on at 1/3 to advance.
Peter Ebdon (the 2006 winner), meanwhile, faces London-born Norwegian cueman Kurt Maflin with the two men next to one another in the rankings. ‘Captain Slow’ is a narrow 4/5 favourite for victory here, but was pushed close by his opponent at last year’s World Championship.
Maflin is thus even-money after mauling qualifier Chris Norbury in round one, while Ebdon came through a deciding frame against up-and-coming Scottish potter Ross Muir. Odds of 29/10 say this second round contest will go the distance.
Marco Fu is heavily odds-on at 1/6 to beat fellow Far East player Lu Haotian, while Wales pair Matthew Stevens and Ryan Day complete familiar names in the afternoon session of day five at the Barbican Centre. Both men are odds-on at 2/5 and 1/6 to come through respective encounters with Northern Ireland’s Gerard Greene and Scotsman Fraser Patrick.