Barry Hawkins (@2.62) vs Neil Robertson (@1.5)
12-09-2019

Our Prediction:

Neil Robertson will win

Barry Hawkins – Neil Robertson Match Prediction | 12-09-2019 06:30

He has a wonderful safety game and his touch in and around the black spot is extremely underrated but he does tend to need some confidence to be firing on all cylinders and I would be surprised if he got any of that from his first round performance. Sometimes winning a match can free up the mind though. We know he has the game to do that. Hell need it to.

Robertson has never really threatened to add to his 2010 Crucible crown but looks to be in the best form of his life heading into this edition. The former Snooker Shoot Out champion has done well to reach this stage but one suspects that hell find himself out of his depth against Robertson, particularly if the 16-time ranking event winner maintains his current hot streak. Neil Robertson is the man in form after a run of four consecutive ranking event finals culminated in the Australian triumphing in the lucrative China Open at the start of April. Michael Georgiou represents Robertsons initial test, the latter proudly becoming the first Cypriot to ever qualify. Only Ronnie OSullivan has managed to stop the Melbourne man in his tracks of late and, with the pair in opposite sides of the 2019 draw, there could be a mouthwatering rematch of their Players Championship and Tour Championship final showdowns of last month.

He usually likes to get the balls open and make big breaks. What I liked about Robertsons win in the opening round was that he won a couple of scrappy frames, and against Mark Williams those are the frames I wouldnt have given him much of a hope in. I expect him to look to do that here and pile the pressure on an opponent who could be low in confidence.

Skrill Benefits

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, 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. 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. 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. Its not easy to see how he can change that statistic given the new world number ones pedigree and form. But greater challengers surely await OSullivan in the 2019 World Snooker Championship. 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. Cahill, still only 23 and an exciting prospect for the future, will be looking to enjoy his moment against the sports biggest star. Ronnie OSullivan once again heads into the World Championship as the pre-tournament favourite, as he so often does.

The Magician has lost all of his tricks and has been a constant loser in the early rounds of ranking events this season. 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. Probably the most damning statistic is that, on the one-year rankings list, Murphy squeaks just inside the top 50 at number 48. Luo Honghao, meanwhile, is another one of the Chinese debutants and at 19 is the only teenager in the field. What has happened to Shaun Murphy? 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. 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.

He usually delivers the goods in the second half of the season but in truth he was nothing special against Murphy, he was just fortunate that the Scottish Open finalist had a bit of a mare and never got going. I expected to see a good game from Barry Hawkins in this tournament. Hawkins will definitely need to play much better if he is to come through this match.

Higgins, with no silverware to his name and a series of disappointing early exits from tournaments to erase from his memory, has been disillusioned with the game since losing his second successive World Championship final last May. By beating Lyu Haotian in the preliminaries, Davis became the first player to reach the venue stages via the qualifiers ten times. Match sharp and with a laissez-faire attitude at the twilight of his career, the 46 year-old will be a tricky challenge that an out-of-form Higgins might not have any answers for this year. Arguably the worst draw that John Higgins could have received on the back of what has been his most miserable season in years. Six years ago at the same hurdle, Davis knocked Higgins out courtesy of a 10-6 scoreline and in fact boasts a superior head-to-head record against the former world number one. The Wizard of Wishaw will be hoping that the Crucible Theatre can inspire some of his old magic to return but in the first round of the 2019 World Snooker Championship hes been paired with an old nemesis at this stage.

Kyren Wilson vs Scott Donaldson

One of six players to claim multiple ranking titles this term, Bingham has only lost to Dott three times in 11 meetings and hammered the Pocket Dynamo when they last crossed paths in Sheffield four year ago. An intriguing battle between two former world champions, this has the hallmark of a game that could go right down to the wire. Like all the qualifiers, Dott has useful victories in the qualifiers under his belt and it will be interesting to see whether or not that has any influence on the outcome. In 2015, of course, Bingham proceeded to win the championship. Graeme Dotts record in this event is superb, underlined by the fact that he has featured at the TV stages of the World Championship every year since 2000, bar one. Even so, Stuart Bingham would have to be considered as the favourite, especially taking into account his wonderful form this season.

From 3-1 down to Mark Williams in the first round, Neil Robertson played a wonderful match and reeled off five frames on the spin to power his way into the quarter final. It was a concern that he was 3-1 down in the first place, and actually one pot away from being 4-1 down, but it was a positive that he remained calm under pressure and found his best game with his back against the wall. You can look at that win one of two ways.