The first major ranking event for a little while takes place in Shanghai this week with 40 players vying for the £80,000 winner’s prize.
The tournament actually got underway on Monday morning, with the main batch of wildcard round matches and a couple of first round games.
Defending champion John Higgins won his first round match 5-1 against Redcar’s Mike Dunn whilst Shaun Murphy also progressed earlier in the day, scraping past Yu Delu 5-4.
In-form: Neil Robertson and Mark Davis
Neil Robertson has been the man to beat in the early stages of this season, with the Australian having already reached the final of the two previous full ranking events this season.
He won the Wuxi Classic back in June, beating John Higgins in the final but fell at the final hurdle in the Australian Open, with Marco Fu prevailing 9-6.
The Australian also reached the final of the first tournament of the season, the Bulgarian Open and has also made the finals of two recent invitational events.
He was beaten in both by Mark Davis, another man to look out for this week, who added a third six-reds title to his CV in Thailand a week ago before also winning the General Cup in Hong Kong last week.
After an indifferent start to the season, Davis appears to have really hit form this past fortnight and could be an outsider for the title.
Betfred are providing odds of 66/1 on Davis winning a third event in a row which reflects as very good value for a man in hot form.
He faces a tough first round match though, with Ali Carter being his opponent in the first round. Carter had to qualify for the event, having slipped out of the top 16 due to missing a couple of events due to him being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Thankfully, he’s made a full recovery and will be looking for a good run in this tournament. Since then, the pair have swapped places and Carter is actually ranked number 16, one above Davis and he is favourite to win the match.
As is usually the case, Robertson is the pre-tournament favourite with the bookies and the best value out there is offered by Coral at 11/2.
Last year’s beaten finalist, Judd Trump faces the experienced Michael Holt in the first round at 12:30pm tomorrow afternoon. Holt though has a tendency to struggle in front of big crowds and Trump is a big favourite for the match, with William Hill providing the best odds of 2/9.
In terms of the tournament outright odds on Trump, Stan James provide the best price at 8/1.
Mark Selby is another name to consider for this week’s title. The Leicester man has had a fairly uneventful start to the season and will be hoping to spring into action this week. Ladbrokes provide the best odds of 7/1 on him winning the event.
I believe last year’s champion John Higgins will also go far this week. After an excellent start to the campaign, the Scot didn’t have too much success the events he took part in during August but looked very convincing in his first round match today.
A number of sites, including Bet Victor, offer odds of 6/1 on him retaining the championship.
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