John Higgins (@1.66) vs Barry Hawkins (@2.2)
12-09-2019

Our Prediction:

John Higgins will win

John Higgins – Barry Hawkins Match Prediction | 12-09-2019 07:30

That youthful exuberance could stand the rookie in good stead and Murphy isnt a stranger to disappointing defeats to young Chinese players, with Yan Bingtao, Zhao Xintong, and Yuan Sijun all notably taking the scalp of the 2005 world champion as inexperienced challengers in the past. Luo Honghao, meanwhile, is another one of the Chinese debutants and at 19 is the only teenager in the field. Murphy is on a bit of a hiding to nothing in this one and he could find himself in trouble if he cant stamp his authority on the contest quickly. Murphy won the Champion of Champions and reached several ranking event finals last season but since relocating to Ireland in the summer his game has been in tatters. What has happened to Shaun Murphy? Probably the most damning statistic is that, on the one-year rankings list, Murphy squeaks just inside the top 50 at number 48. The Magician has lost all of his tricks and has been a constant loser in the early rounds of ranking events this season.

Zhao Xintong is arguably the most improved player of the season. Theres no reason to think that Zhao, a heavy scorer when in full flow, cant put it up to the Leicesterman again on this occasion. Zhao gave Selby a stern check in the semi-finals of the China Championship in September the only piece of silverware in Selbys cabinet from a forgettable period. Which Mark Selby is going to turn up? Selbys displays on home soil have predominantly been dismal, reaching the last four of a UK-based ranking event only twice in two years. Most of his strong showings have come in China and its against one of that nations highly fancied young stars who he faces first. Thats what a lot of people are wondering as we get set for the 2019 World Snooker Championship. A lot depends on which Selby actually turns up. The Jester just lost his coveted world number one position for the first time in more than four years and has looked a shadow of the self that captured three world titles in four years between 2014 and 2017. The 22 year-old must have been a despondent character twelve months ago when he dropped off the Main Tour but immediately bounced back via Q School and in one season is already in the cusp of breaking into the top 64 in the world rankings.

To seal his debut at the Crucible, the 31 year-old overcame Soheil Vahedi before standout successes over world number 17 Ryan Day and two-time former finalist Matthew Stevens. Things havent quite worked out that way for the Scot despite once claiming that it would be a failure if he didnt etch his name on the trophy before the age of 30. Now 38, Maguire often acts like a player who doesnt really have much belief in his game. That said, the five-time ranking event winner has produced a relatively consistent season and will be hoping to improve on a dismal recent Crucible record that reads six first round defeats in the last eight years. Other qualifiers gained more headlines but one of the most impressive of the lot was Tian Pengfei. Tians next opponent will be Stephen Maguire, who was once thought of as a nailed on world champion.

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To some critics out there, the Chinese players are often unfairly being labeled as failures and underachievers, which is somewhat hilarious considering the majority of them are either teenagers or in their early twenties. Still, while Zhou should represent a decent workout for Allen, its hard to look past the 33 year-old in terms of reaching the last 16 on this occasion. Zhou is one of the leading protagonists in the huge pack of young Chinese stars that are emerging. Another mouthwatering prospect in this bracket of the 2019 World Snooker Championship draw is the match between Mark Allen and Zhou Yuelong. The 2009 semi-finalist will be hoping that the advantage to all that will be a fresh outlook ahead of the sports most vigurous examination. Allen skipped the China Open, an unusual decision that cost him his spot in an easier looking top half of the draw. The Northern Irishman has been one of the players of the season, although things have gone a touch quiet since he captured a brace of ranking titles and reached the UK Championship final at the end of the calendar year.

Mark Williams produced an unbelievable performance twelve months ago to surprise the pack and claim a third world crown, 15 years after his last success. Williams has lost the consistency that was a cornerstone of his game last season. Goulds performances at the Crucible havent been notable since and the experience, not to mention cool head, of Williams should prove to be the vital difference. A former ranking event winner, Gould has the type of game that can trouble any opponent on his day. The Welshman has been enjoying a year-long celebration since then and its fair to say that his game has suffered a touch as a result. Gould famously led Neil Robertson 11-5 in the second round in 2010, only for the Australian to fight back and proceed to capture his one and only world title. Against Martin Gould, Williams probably could have received an easier opening challenge. As always, theres great expectation in learning who the defending champion will receive in the first round draw. Yet, its been a miserable time on the circuit for the Pinner Potter of late and he has been in danger of dropping outside the worlds top 32.

With a taste of the single table set-up, the Kettering cueist will be desperate to make a return. With two semi-final and a couple of quarter-final appearances in ranking events this season, Donaldson is beginning to become more recognisable at the business end of comps. His debut berth in the World Championship shouldnt come as any great surprise then, but its difficult to envisage him going any further. The Scot has gone under the radar a touch but has actually been one of the most improved players on the circuit of late. Kyren Wilson could be a dark horse for this years tournament as hes got all the necessary tools to do well in the 17-day Marathon of the Mind. The Paul Hunter Classic and German Masters champion reached the last four twelve months ago and was eventually undone by John Higgins but, like the four-time world champion, Wilson boasts a suitable temperament for the big occasion. Scott Donaldson was the last player to emerge from the 2019 World Snooker Championship qualifiers late on Wednesday night after a dramatic 10-9 victory over Lu Ning.

Cahill, a former professional who will regain his tour card next season, has actually played the five-time world champion three times but unsurprisingly has fallen short on each occasion. An incredible first round draw has paired the Rocket with James Cahill, who was the headline story of the qualifiers when he beat Michael Judge to become the first amateur to reach the Crucible in the tournaments 42-year history. Cahill, still only 23 and an exciting prospect for the future, will be looking to enjoy his moment against the sports biggest star. The Englishman hasnt challenged at the Crucible since 2014, though, and is often his own worst enemy as he struggles to deal with the inner demons that can affect his game, especially when the format increases over multiple sessions. OSullivan has been practically unstoppable this season, reaching the title decider in seven out of the ten tournaments hes participated in, with only Trump managing to evade him in big finals. Its not easy to see how he can change that statistic given the new world number ones pedigree and form. Which brings us to the last match. Its what dreams are made of and aspirations dont come much loftier than a 2019 World Snooker Championship encounter with OSullivan. But greater challengers surely await OSullivan in the 2019 World Snooker Championship. Ronnie OSullivan once again heads into the World Championship as the pre-tournament favourite, as he so often does.