The World Snooker tour gets going again in the early hours of Monday morning with the start of the Australian Goldfields Open.
There has been a couple of weeks off after Neil Robertson won the Wuxi Classic a few weeks ago and the Aussie goes into his home event as hot favourite to make it back-to-back wins.
Robbo extended his lead at the top of the world rankings after coming from 5-2 behind to beat John Higgins 10-7 in the final in Wuxi back in June. And now the 2010 World Champion will be the man to beat as he bids to win his home event for the first time in his career.
The 31-year-old has struggled during the last two editions of the tournament after World Snooker returned to Oz in 2011 and has never gone beyond the last 16.
Last year, he lost out to semi-finalist Mark Davis 5-1 and in 2011 he was defeated 5-4 by Welshman Dominic Dale.
But he is arguably playing the best snooker of his life and will fancy his chances as he kicks off his campaign against Scot Marcus Campbell in the Monday evening session.
Paddy Power provide the best odds of 4/1 on Robertson taking the tournament which concludes on Sunday.
The Main Contenders
The Goldfields Open is one of the three remaining tournaments that operate under the old structure, with the top 16 ranked entrants going straight through to the final venue rather than having to go through qualifying.
However, this has also meant that prize money hasn’t increased in comparison to other major ranking events, meaning many of the top players decided not to enter due to the low prize fund and high costs of travelling to Australia.
Players such as Judd Trump, John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen have all opted to sit out the event but world number two Mark Selby is in the main draw and will play Ian Burns on Tuesday evening.
The reigning UK Champion is big favourite to progress with Coral one of many website offering odds of 1/6 whilst Preston potter Burns is priced at 11/2 with Ladbrokes.
Barry Hawkins kicks off his defence of the first professional title that he won 12 months ago and faces Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng. ‘The Poom’ made a name for himself at the World Championship last year with his crazy on-table camaraderie.
Whilst his antics at the Crucible were highly amusing, his run to the last 16 there has done his game the world of good and has got off to a good start this season.
The bookies have taken not of this and a number of them, including Coral, are offering fairly short odds of 5/2 on him winning on Monday morning. Hawkins is favourite to progress though and Betfred, amongst others, provide odds of 2/7.
After Robertson, Selby, who is in the other half of the draw, is currently second favourite to lift his first trophy of the season. He reached the final of the Yixing Open on the Asian Tour a few weeks ago and William Hill are offering odds of 9/2.
Ding Junhui is also a name to look out for with Stan James offering 8/1 whilst Shaun Murphy will be looking to win his first title since the 2011 PTC Grand Finals and he is priced at 9/1 with Boylesports.
Boylesports also offer the best odds of 16/1 for defending champion Hawkins to retain his title whilst Joe Perry has had a good start to the season after winning the Yixing Open and would be a decent punt at 33/1 with Sportingbet.
Robert Milkins is also a player in top form and could benefit from the number of top players not entering. Odds of 40/1 with Bet 365 on the Wuxi Classic semi-finalist represent good value on what would be Milkins’ first professional title.
Unfortunately, Eurosport have decided not to cover the tournament but you can follow the matches on the live streams on the betting websites.
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