Coral Welsh Open: Ronnie aiming for one more

International Championship tips

Defending champion wants to go out in style

The Coral sponsored Welsh Open gets underway on Monday, with the winner decided over the course of the week, a champion being crowned in Sunday’s final. Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena provides the backdrop and, as you would expect from the tournament supporters, we are the place to make your bets.

Masters king Ronnie O’Sullivan goes as defending champion, which certainly won’t catch punters off-guard. He beat Australian Neil Robertson 9-5 12-months ago, but will be, perhaps, best remembered in this format for his infamous ‘too cheap’ comment regarding the prize money of £10,000 for a maximum break. To demonstrate, Ronnie sunk the pink, to finish 146. Those actions caused World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn to brand the Englishman disrespectful.

Rocket loves a bit of drama, there can be no doubt about that, but followers who have him as the first name down on their betting slip in the outright market of major competitions will be hoping for a rather more straightforward effort this year.

Selby form looks sketchy

Thought to be a safer way to invest your cash is a play on Mark Selby. The current world number one from Leicester won his only Welsh Open title back in 2008, when edging past O’Sullivan in the final courtesy of a 9-8 score.

The 33-year-old doesn’t arrive in the best of form however, being eliminated from the World Grand Prix last week at the hands of Martin Gould. The underdog pulled off a massive first round shock to end Selby’s chances almost before they had begun, courtesy of a final frame 4-3 result. The slight positive that can be taken, and I do mean slight, is that Selby arrives fully rested, with time to plan his route ahead.

History to repeat itself

Those looking to take a chance on something at a bigger price may want to have history on their side and back John Higgins. The Wizard of Wishaw, now 41-years-old, has won four Welsh Open titles during his career, finishing runner-up twice.

Those stats make Higgins the tournament’s most-successful player, and he was last seen to hold the title in 2015, beating Ben Woollaston with minimal fuss in the final. His other wins in this sphere have come over Stephen Maguire, Ali Carter and Stephen Lee 17-years ago.

Ronnie O’Sullivan spoke to the press recently about nearing his retirement, but said that he would love to win another Welsh Open title before calling it a day. That’s certainly worth paying attention to.

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