The second and third quarter finals form the menu at the Players Championship on Thursday when four men battle it out for places in the semi-final of the middle leg of the Cazoo Series inside the Aldersley Arena in Wolverhampton.
We saw the first quarter final go all the way on Wednesday evening and we would be foolish to expect the drama to ease up throughout the course of a fascinating day of action on Thursday which has four class acts on show.
Barry Hawkins vs Yan Bingtao
Two men who have been to major semi-finals this season will meet in the afternoon quarter final when Barry Hawkins takes on the former Masters champion Yan Bingtao for the right to meet Ricky Walden in the last four on Friday night.
Hawkins has already seen off one Chinese superstar this week when he took care of the top seed Zhao Xintong and now he will be looking to go past the other Chinese youngster in Yan Bingtao. Bingtao had a good win over Dave Gilbert in the opening round where he scored like a lunatic in the opening six frames and while he fell over the line, to deliver a performance that good so soon after the disappointment of being whitewashed in the German Masters final says everything about his character. I’m expecting a really good quarter final here. Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of Bingtao but I fully respect that Hawkins made the final of The Masters this season so I’m not going to pick a winner. The obvious bet here is over 9.5 frames and I’m happy to be on that. I don’t see this being won any easier than 6-4 or 6-5 either way.
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Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Neil Robertson
The pick of the quarter finals is the one which comes along on Thursday evening when the World Grand Prix champion Ronnie O’Sullivan continues his bid to sweep the Cazoo Series when he goes up against The Masters winner Neil Robertson in a heavyweight showdown.
O’Sullivan teetered on the fringes of the big time since he won the world title back in 2020 but he has come alive over the last couple of months. He beat Robertson to win his World Grand Prix crown at the end of 2021 but then lost out to the Australian in the quarter final of The Masters last month. There was so much to like about O’Sullivan in the first round. He looked really focused and played incredibly well in beating Judd Trump despite only making once century and he’s unplayable when he plays like that. Robertson was better than I expected him to be in beating Kyren Wilson in the first round when you consider how recently he has come out of isolation for Covid but he’ll need to improve to beat O’Sullivan unless Ronnie isn’t on his game. I sense the lure of returning to world number one if he wins this tournament is inspiring O’Sullivan and I expect him to be on it but he’s priced accordingly. I’d rather watch this one than lose on a match which fine margins will settle. This should be a great game so there is no need to bet on it.
Back B.Hawkins vs Y.Bingtao – Over 9.5 frames for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Betfair
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