Word Snooker: Matt finish for Higgins?

The Snooker World Championships kick off with reigning champion and Tournament tip Judd Trump the first up.

He has a tricky test in the form of Tom Ford but elsewhere in the first round there are numerous intriguing ties that are sure to throw up a few shocks.

First up for a potential early exit is last years finalist John Higgins. He faces Matthew Stevens in the first round with the Welshman continuing his return towards the top of the game.

He was in imperious form when making short work of Ricky Walden in the final round of qualifying and with Higgins badly out of form for most of this season Stevens looks a worthy bet at 3/1. At Evens +3.5 frames he has to be part of a first round treble.

Similarly Jordan Brown played the best snooker of all the qualifiers and rallied to beat an in form Ryan Day. For his rewards he has former champion Mark Selby in the first round. The latter has gone off the edge of a cliff this season and looks a shadow of his former self.

The Crucible brings out the best in Selby and he may scrape through but Brown looks well worth a play +4.5 Frames in the handicap.

Finally debutante Alexander Ursenbacher could well give another Crucible mainstay – Barry Hawkins – a real fright in the first round. At +3.5 frames in the handicap he can push Hawkins all the way. Hawkins has really struggled for consistency this season and may be susceptible to a debutante who wont have the pressure of a full house to contend with.


Stevens (+3.5), Brown (+4.5) and Ursenbacher (+3.5),  all to win on the handicap, 1pt treble,  c6/1

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