Judd’s back to defend his title.
Before the potters get the best part of a month off in July, there is the small matter of the Australian Goldfields Open to play in Bendigo, this is usually an enjoyable tournament and ideal for insomniacs who like their snooker when the rest of Europe is asleep.
It all starts on Monday at midnight UK time with two matches involving the wildcards. The two who have been chosen this time are probably the best of a quite poor bunch with one being an ex-pro and another being a half decent amateur, but thankfully they aren’t, on paper anyway, the handful that some of the Chinese ones can prove. They still shouldn’t be in it though.
The coverage for this on the betting sites is usually entertaining, the commentary of Robby Foldvari alone is worth switching on for, his velvety, dulcet, relaxed style and tone of voice will probably have you nodding off in seconds, much like anyone who ever saw him play snooker used to. The studio coverage is usually good too and sometimes they get some of the players in to add their analysis, which is also a plus.
Of course the downside for viewers this side of the globe is the time difference and it’s only really the 10am starts that get the attention of most, though early risers like myself usually tune in for the session beforehand. It’s fair to say it’s not a tournament for people who don’t like mornings and also prefer an early night.
A lot has been made of the absentees, with one website even claiming it devalued the tournament. But who have we actually lost? Ronnie never plays in this, Ding isn’t playing very well anyway and is hardly missed at the moment, who else? MJW, Barry Hawkins…..but look who IS in it…World Number 1 Selby, World Champion Bingham, Home Favourite Robbo, Fans Favourites Judd, Allen, Smurf, The Captain…established winners like Higgins and Maguire as well as exciting players like Jack Lisowski who faces Judd in the first round, Michael White and Iran’s Hossein Vafaei Ayouri.
Devalued? Nonsense. This will take a hell of a lot of winning. More devalued was the field last week, with some of the names competing in the World Cup completely unheard of, when four man teams from more established snooker nations would have been a lot more interesting and brought in a lot more competent players.
The draw can be viewed below along with a brief look at what might happen and a few recommended bets. If you’re getting involved you can watch on said betting sites or on Eurosport at selected times.
You can view the Eurosport schedule for the week here. You can view the Order of Play at Snooker Island here.
CLICK ON THE MATCH FOR HEAD TO HEADS.
Wild Card Round
Matt Selt v Ben Judge
Ben Woollaston v Adrian Ridley
These two matches should be little more than practice sessions for the two main tour players Selt and Woollaston. Judge is a former professional but he’s never really made a mark and his only significant wins have really come in the 6-Red format, Selt, assuming he’s not spent every waking hour since qualifying on the golf course should take care of business comfortably. Ridley has never been professional and this is probably his biggest match to date, again other than 6-Reds where he’s actually beaten John Higgins. He had a decent run in Q-School a few years back when Martin O’Donnell beat him in the final match to make pro, but I don’t think he’ll trouble the tenacious Woollaston.
Recommended Bet: 2 points on both to win (-2.5 frames) pays over 7/4 at Bet 365. 0.5 point on them both to win 5-0 pays 44/1.
Judd Trump v Jack Lisowski
Xiao Guodong v Ian Burns
Stephen Maguire v Joel Walker
Ricky Walden v Andrew Higginson
The obvious match that the eyes are drawn to is the encounter between Judd and Jack, once flatmates but now in different stables having had different fortunes the past couple of years. Jack, now being coached by Terry Griffiths holds the upper hand in the head to heads and I wouldn’t rule out a shock there. Joel Walker is another capable of causing an upset but with Maguire making the trip following his week in China, perhaps he’ll give this his best shot. Ricky Walden usually starts the season fairly well so he might be worth an interest in the outrights, but it’s very hard to know how any of the players that have not hit a competitive ball since The Crucible have prepared for this, Walden, who lost first round, being one of them.
Predicted Match Winners: Lisowski, Guodong, Maguire, Walden.
Predicted Quarter Winner: Ricky Walden.
Marco Fu v Martin Gould
Michael Holt v Gerald Greene
Mark Allen v Mark Joyce
Neil Robertson v Matt Selt/Ben Judge
Marco Fu, who won this two seasons ago and then surprisingly chose not to defend it last year, returns to face Martin Gould. Presumably Marco, like Maguire, chose to enter because he was in the World Cup last week. Michael Holt is another who is now being coached by Griffiths, perhaps that might help him achieve more than he has to date, Terry seems to wave a magic wand at times and Holt is a player that undoubtedly has the game but perhaps lacks confidence at times, Griffiths is by all accounts a master at bringing the best out of players with these problems. Mark Allen and Mark Joyce tend to have close ones and Joyce is probably the kind of player Allen hates playing, meanwhile the expected match between close pals Selt and Robertson is an early test for the home hero who is attempting to land a title on home soil for the first time.
Predicted Match Winners: Fu, Holt, Allen, Robertson.
Predicted Quarter Winner: Neil Robertson.
Mark Selby v Mark King
Dark Mavis v Jamie Jones
Michael White v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
Shaun Murphy v Ali Carter
Mark Selby has comfortably beaten Mark King on their last 5 meetings and there is little to suggest that he won’t do so again having had the warm up, albeit cut short surprisingly early, last week in China. Mavis is yet another in the Griffiths stable and this feels like the sort of tournament that he could make a breakthrough in, I’d say he’s a dark horse in this. Ayouri qualified in style and there are a lot of people in the know who rate the Iranian very highly, his cue action is very solid and it will be interesting to watch his progress this season. Ali Carter has been working hard over the summer and needs a strong season to climb back up the rankings, he has a tough opener against the World Championship runner up Murphy, but holds the advantage in the head to heads between the two.
Predicted Match Winners: Selby, Mavis, White, Carter.
Predicted Quarter Winner: Dark Mavis.
Joe Perry v Jamie Burnett
Rob Milkins v Ben Woollaston/Adrian Ridley
John Higgins v Michael Georgiou
Stuart Bingham v Fergal O’Brien
The World Champion Stuart Bingham returns to the tournament that arguably started him on the road to riches a few seasons ago. A former champion here, he’ll go into this I’m sure feeling that he can now win anything, but a tough opener against The Ferginator awaits. He’s in a tough section and John Higgins, Rob Milkins and Joe Perry are all players that could emerge from the week with a trophy going through customs. It’s really hard to know who has been busy on the practice table and who will go into this a little rusty, for that reason I think this week might see a few unexpected results and possibly even a lower ranked winner, I’d look at someone like Perry to have a run in this personally.
Predicted Match Winners: Perry, Milkins, Higgins, Bingham.
Predicted Quarter Winner: Joe Perry.
Recommended Bets: 3 point acca pays almost 3/1 on Selt and Woollaston (W/C round), Selby, Mavis, Perry and Higgins. 1 point on Lisowski at 7/2. 1 point on Carter at 23/10.
Recommended Outrights: 3 points on Robertson at 9/2. 1 point each way on Perry at 28/1, Walden at 33/1, Mavis at 80/1.