Thursday sees the second round of the Turkish Masters concluding over the three sessions of play in Antalya as the inaugural staging of this lucrative tournament plays down to the last 16 stage ahead of a busy weekend for those who survive into Friday.
We are beginning to see the draw open up with the likes of Mark Williams, Mark Allen and Zhao Xintong falling by the wayside on Wednesday. That might act to sharpen up the minds of those big names still remaining.
We have four matches in each session on Thursday with the pick of the matches in the opening session being the heavyweight clash between Ding Junhui and Kyren Wilson. That will be on the TV table but there is a big match in terms of World Championship automatic qualification as Jack Lisowski takes on Martin Gould. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh has staying on the tour on his mind and he can ease his relegation fears if he can beat Jordan Brown. The other match sees an all-Chinese battle between Wu Yize and Lu Ning.
Shaun Murphy is the leading light on the TV table in the afternoon session. He looked much better in the first round but will have his work cut out when he takes on the English Open and Players Championship semi-finalist Jimmy Robertson, who could still make it into the Tour Championship. Yan Bingtao is also pushing for a place in that tournament and he’ll continue that push when he meets Elliot Slessor while the Shootout champion Hossein Vafaei, another on the fringes of Tour Championship qualification, meets Jak Jones who had a good win over Mark Allen on Wednesday. Andrew Higginson faces off against Oliver Lines in the other game.
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The pick of the matches in the evening session will be on the TV table when Judd Trump looks to make it into the last 16 when he takes on Liang Wenbo who is in pretty decent form. Scottish Open champion Luca Brecel has made it through to this stage and he’ll go up against the Chinese challenge of Zhou Yuelong while over on the outside tables we will have Yuan Sijun facing Sam Craigie and Matthew Stevens meeting Ali Carter in a match between two men who really should be performing better than they have in recent times.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the day out in Turkey. We begin in the afternoon where I’m surprised the bookmakers can’t split Oliver Lines and Andrew Higginson. To be fair to Higginson he is making a good fist of keeping his tour card at the end of the season but he faces a rival in that regard here so this is a huge match. As it stands Lines will keep his card on the one-year list but he’ll want to get into the top 64 by the end of the World Championship to avoid going back to £0 on the rankings. I think Lines is the better of the two and playing that way. He has been incredibly unlucky with draws this season. The players to have beaten him since the British Open in regular snooker have been Yan Bingtao, Mark Williams, Anthony McGill, John Higgins, Jak Jones, Mark Selby and Zhao Xintong so that is seven defeats and six of them to players in the top 16. Higginson isn’t in that ilk so this is a chance for Lines. Higginson beat Iulian Boiko in the first round here but had lost five of his previous six matches prior to that. The form and the respective ability tells us Lines should be favourite here so I’ll back him accordingly.
I’ll also take Liang Wenbo to push Judd Trump close. Liang probably has good memories of playing Trump because it was against him that he won his only ranking event title to date in the inaugural English Open. He’ll fancy his chances here too because Trump isn’t playing well. Even when he wins he has to grind and often come through in deciding frames. Wenbo is playing very well as evidenced by his win over Joe Perry on Wednesday. Perry might have been mentally shattered after the emotional high of winning the Welsh Open but he still needs beating. Trump was a few balls away from being taken to a deciding frame by Chris Wakelin on Wednesday and might be feeling it himself after his exertions last week. Wenbo made the semis of the European Masters and since then went down in a deciding frame to Ben Woollaston last week and beat Joe Perry here. I think the Chinese ace is playing well enough to give a potentially jaded Trump a right scare here if he doesn’t beat him.
Back O.Lines to beat A.Higginson for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Coral
Back him here:
Back L.Wenbo (+1.5 frames) to beat J.Trump for a 3/10 stake at 2.25 with BetVictor
Back him here: