Thursday, 18 April 2013

Crucible predictions: part 1

It's nearly time for all the talking to stop and the action to get under way.

But humour me until then.

At first glance, the first round draw is one that appears to favour most of the top seeds. OnCue takes a look at the top half of the draw and sees what each of the match-ups could produce inside snooker's beloved Crucible Theatre...

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Marcus Campbell

All eyes will be on the defending champion when the curtain comes down on this year's World Championship. The Rocket is used to this kind of attention, but Campbell. The pressure will be immense. The Rocket has a good record against the Scot, winning all four of their previous meetings. I expect this match to turn into a fifth. O'Sullivan may have a bit of rust to remove when it comes to playing competitive snooker. Don't expect him to hit top gear straight away. This is quite a kind draw. He should be able to find enough and then has a platform to build his tournament on.

Verdict: O'Sullivan 10-6

Ali Carter v Ben Woollaston

A tough opener for last year's runner-up. Woollaston is one of six Crucible debutants this year and arrives in Sheffield strong in most departments. He is a solid match player who will not be fazed by the bright lights and TV cameras. He has already proved he is comfortable in the big matches. He's improving all the time and has been practising for the tournament with fellow Leicestershire man and world number one Mark Selby. Carter will need to weather a storm or two during this match. He shouldn't expect it all his own way, but has never been one to shy away from a battle. He is excellent over the longer format and often produces his best at the Crucible.

Verdict: Carter 10-8

Stuart Bingham v Sam Baird

There are so many big names in the tournament that Bingham could find a way to go under the radar this year. He's not one of the first obvious favourites for the title but has had a good season and will be full of confidence. He has proved he can give anyone a match and could come into contention if some of the top seeds fall in the first two rounds. His opponent Baird has come on a great journey to reach the Crucible. He has won four matches and will feel like he's already won a tournament to get here. Just under a year ago he was playing in QSchool to reclaim his professional status. He is likely to put in a confident performance  nd could cause some problems, but Bingham will never take anyone lightly and will be looking to make up for his first round exit against Stephen Hendry last year.

Verdict: Bingham 10-5

Higgins v Davis

A gulf of Crucible experience separates these two players but could form over the season be the great leveller. Minus winning the Shanghai Masters, Higgins has struggled for form by his own high standards. Some of his results and performances have been surprisingly poor. Davis on the other hand has had his best ever season, reaching three semi-finals and forcing his way into the top 16, only be denied automatic seeding here because Ronnie comes in as defending champion. Higggins is a Crucible master with four titles to his name. He doesn't always start well but normally finds a way to win.

Verdict: Higgins 10-7 Davis

Murphy v Gould

This one could be a real potting feast. Both players like to go for their long shots and attack. They both lost in the first round of the tournament a year ago and will be keen to put that right. This could be one of the ties of the round. Gould can scare almost any player in the world, but I think Murphy might shade it as he usually starts tournaments strongly.

Verdict: Murphy 10-7

Graeme Dott v Peter Ebdon

This is a repeat of the 2006 World Championship final, but let's hope it is a more entertaining match when they meet this time. They both have great Crucible credentials. They have both won the tournament once and played in three finals. Ebdon came through a challenging qualifier against Kurt Maflin. He's fighting hard and is rich in practice, so will be well on his game. Dott bombed out 10-1 against Joe Perry a year ago but sometimes produces his best at the Crucible. He won't be intimidated by Ebdon and has actually beaten him in their two previous meetings at the Crucible. Expect a tight match.

Verdict: Dott 10-9

Matthew Stevens v Marco Fu

A very evenly matched contest on paper. Neither player is blessed with great consistency and there could be a few twists and turns in this one as each of them feel the pressure of being in a match they will think is winnable. Both have had moments to celebrate over the past year. Stevens reached the last four here 12 months ago and was a finalist at the World Open earlier this calendar year. Fu was the runner-up to Carter in the German Masters. This will be an open match with frames of real quality and others that drag out.

Verdict: Stevens 10-8

Judd Trump v Dominic Dale

This is the second year running these players have met in the opening round. Dale played very well in qualifying to beat Alfie Burden and looks in good shape. Trump will be looking for a flying start and has the firepower to see out this match. Dale will try to make it difficult for Trump and will probably have joy at times, but the crowd will be willing on the world number three, hoping he puts on a real show. This is the big one for Judd. He will be bang up for it and shouldn't take the liberties we've seen him risk in other events.

Verdict: Trump 10-6

No comments:

Post a Comment