The 2007 World Snooker Championship is only days away and a fortnight of snooker bliss begins.
This year will in my opinion see one of the closest fought championships in a long time. Nobody has this year dominated the Ranking events, which leaves a lot of players in a position to grab the games ultimate prize.
Lets start with the favourites. Ronnie O’Sullivan, undoubtedly the games most natural talent, has once again had an up and down season. At the Masters in January we saw the side of Ronnie that is both brilliant and exciting yet preceding that we saw him walk out of his match with Stephen Hendry when the game was not lost.
All of the top bookmakers place Ronnie as the favourite with the best odds of 7/2 available at both Stan James and Ladbrokes.
It is then difficult to pick a second favourite with seven players hanging around on the same odds. Pick of the bunch would be John Higgins at 14/1 at Bet Fred.
We have seen rapid improvements in the games of Chinese sensation Ding Junhui and Australian Neil Robertson. Robertson has won 2 ranking events this season that has seen him move to World Number 7 in the provisional rankings. Ding on the other hand has had a consistent season with a few dips, most notably last week in his home tournament the China Open where he failed to progress beyond the first round.
What of last seasons champion? Well, Graeme Dott is in a rich vein of form after winning the China Open a couple of weeks ago – he demolished Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-2 in the semi-finals en route to the final. He always brings his “A-Game” to the Crucible and I am surprised to find him at 12/1 in most places with a best price of 14/1 at William Hill.
I think there are also a couple of other players that are also worthy of a mention – Stephen Hendry (he will be playing with a new snooker cue at this event) and can be backed at 10/1 at Bet Fred and cannot be overlooked. Peter Ebdon an amazing Crucible performer over the years and his best price is 14/1 available at Stan James and Bet Fred. Shaun Murphy a previous winner is also someone not to be dismissed and has had a topsy-turvy season with a high point of a win in the Malta Cup.
Matthew Stevens, twice a runner-up has had a disappointing season that has seen him fall out of the top 16 provisionally, so he will be looking for a good performance to keep his ranking in the elite 16 players.
Fancy an underdog?
The biggest price can be had on BBC presenter and 1991 World Champion John Parrott who at 500/1 is a bit of a long shot, however, you may see him progress through the first round at least as he has drawn fellow presenter Steve Davis in the 1st Round.
A player in my opinion that you have to look out for is Judd Trump, the lowest ranked and youngest player in the tournament. He is ranked number 71 in the world and is only 17 years old. He is the third youngest player ever to compete at snookers pinnacle event, the other two are multiple world champions, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan. Judd can be backed at 66/1 for the outright win at William Hill.
The tastiest tie of the 1st round see’s Ronnie O’Sullivan play Ding Junhui in what will be a rpeat of the 2007 Masters Final. Ronnie won that match 10-3 so Ding will be out for revenge. I think if Ding beats O’Sullivan then he will win the World Championships.
If O’Sullivan wins that match then the title will go to either him, Neil Robertson or Stephen Hendry, if I had to move off the fence I would pick Stephen Hendry.
HAVE YOUR SAY BELOW