It is quarter final day at the Welsh Open on Friday with all four matches being played out on what is always the best day of the week at any Home Nations event, not least here because there are so many potential stories to be written.
Just two members of the top 16 have made it through the best of seven shootouts and they meet in an epic looking quarter final, so there is the chance for someone to go very deep this weekend and set themselves up for what lies ahead.
Ali Carter vs Jack Lisowski
Two men who arrived in Newport needing a big week for their confidence meet in the opening quarter final when Ali Carter takes on a Jack Lisowski whose form this season has been nothing like it was in the last two where he was regularly making finals.
Both these men will have seen Ronnie O’Sullivan knocked out of their half of the draw on Thursday evening and will know a spot in at least the final is in front of them if they can come through here. Carter has played some lovely stuff this week and while it is probably going to be too late to get him to the Crucible by right, if he can go on and win this title again it would certainly fill him with confidence for the world qualifiers. Lisowski has come through the draw nicely without doing anything spectacular over the week but that is an improvement on what has been a poor campaign for the talented cueist. The biggest eye catcher in terms of a result this week was Carter beating John Higgins. He didn’t just beat him, he did it with a barrage of scoring and followed that up with more of the same from 2-0 down to Scott Donaldson in the last 16. Carter loves this tournament and looks in fine form and at odds against I’ll back him to beat a Lisowski who hasn’t really been under pressure this week.
Neil Robertson vs Judd Trump
The pick of the quarter finals will be the second one which goes onto the main TV table on Friday afternoon when the English Open, The Masters and Players Championship champion Neil Robertson takes on the Champion of Champions winner Judd Trump.
Usually it would currently be impossible for these two men to meet in a quarter final but Jordan Brown being the number one seed this week means that Robertson went down to the fifth seed and here we are. I think both these players have been efficient this week without playing to the best of their ability. Robertson has largely cruised through but hasn’t been as emphatic as he was at the Players Championship. Trump has returned to form but he hasn’t been anything like the winning animal we are used to seeing. This one really could go either way and that is reflected in the odds for the contest. Watch this one. It will be good enough to watch without a bet on it.
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Ricky Walden vs Joe Perry
Two men in the latter half of their career will meet in what is an important quarter final on the TV table on Friday evening when Ricky Walden bids for a fourth semi-final this season when he takes on the born again Joe Perry.
Perry has been slacking form wise for going on a couple of seasons now. He didn’t make a secret of the fact he did not enjoy playing behind closed doors but even then it has taken him a while to come back to something like his best with crowds in the venue. Wins over Cao Yupeng, Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson this week suggests he is coming to the boil nicely. Walden has been one of the players of the season and a win in this match will as good as sew up his spot at the Tour Championship which highlights just how well he is going. I’m expecting a great match here but there is no ignoring the scoring of Perry this week. He has made a century in every match, and put a second on top in his win over Kyren Wilson on Thursday evening, so the 6/4 that he makes one in this match appeals with the format being longer to allow him to relax a little more. Perry also put in a ton in qualifying for this and the Turkish Masters so he’s overpriced to bag another here.
Zhang Anda vs Hossein Vafaei
There is one quarter final on the streamed table on Friday night as ever in a Home Nations event and this time it is an all-Asian clash between Zhang Anda and Hossein Vafaei, a match which is about more than just reaching the semi-final for these two men.
Zhang Anda is battling for ranking points to elevate him closer to the top 64 by the end of next season whereas if Vafaei can win this and then go on and land a second title of the season, the Shootout winner could yet qualify automatically for the World Championship, so this should be a really competitive match. Vafaei isn’t playing his best, he has admitted as much, but he is winning matches and you can’t ask for much more than that. Zhang Anda has come through the draw nicely and will have a real good go here having run Ronnie O’Sullivan close last week. I’m never keen on backing Vafaei as a favourite but the price to reel me in on the Chinese ace isn’t there so I’ll leave this one alone.
Back A.Carter to beat J.Lisowski for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
Back him here:
Back J.Perry – Over 0.5 centuries for a 3/10 stake at 2.50 with Betfair
Back him here: