World Grand Prix best bets and outright preview

World Grand Prix best bets and outright preview

Richard Mann bets Ronnie O’Sullivan on a successful title defense at the World Grand Prix, which begins on Monday evening.

Snooker Betting Tips: World Grand Prix

2 points Ronnie O’Sullivan wins the Grand Prix on 2.11. (General)

1pt ew Jack Lisowski wins the World Grand Prix with 16/1 (General 1/2 1.2)

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Snooker fans don’t have much of a breather after completing the Masters as the World Grand Prix gets underway at Cheltenham Racecourse on Monday night.

It seems a shame that a tournament of this magnitude has seemingly been pushed onto the calendar right after a Triple Crown event, but once those Masters blues have blown away, this will no doubt prove to be another big week for the sport.

The World Grand Prix honor roll runs high, with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson being the last three winners, and it always takes real star quality to win this event.

The last three winners are back this week, O’Sullivan, the defending champion who defeated Robertson in a brilliant final last year. Somewhat surprisingly, John Higgins didn’t qualify, but Masters finalists Trump and Mark Williams are quickly emerging.

Robertson the choice in the star-studded bottom half

With the 32 best-performing players of the season making up the draw, easy passages are in short supply, but Robertson and Trump both have a tough first-round duel with Xiao Guodong and Hossein Vafaei before potentially clashing in the quarter-finals.

With British Open hero Ryan Day also in the bottom half of the draw along with Scottish Open winner Gary Wilson, Luca Brecel, Kyren Wilson and Shaun Murphy, I’m happy to skip this section altogether .

If pushed, I’d side with Robertson, who I thought was going to win the Masters but complained he wasn’t doing well after winning in a match he was meant to be should have brought the decisive frame, had lost to Murphy 6:4.

It is worth remembering that the Australian won two titles immediately after his loss in the first round of the Masters in 2020.

Still, the top half of the draw appeals to me a little more, and it is RONNIE O’SULLIVAN who directs my operational plan.

although lost 6-5 to Mark Williams in the Quarterfinals at Alexandra PalaceI’ve been impressed with O’Sullivan’s attitude all week. He seemed hungry again after a significant dip in form ahead of Christmas and his interviews suggested he’s in a good place at the moment.

He looked very sharp on the table as he beat Luca Brecel 6-1 and his safety game was flawless as he tied Williams in knots for much of the early part of their game. That doesn’t happen often to Williams.

O’Sullivan can culminate for the title defense

In the end, it was O’Sullivan’s strike that let him down in the second half of that game, but even the greatest breakbuilder of all time can have a bad day at the office and I’m not going to get too hung up on that.

If normal duty resumes for his title defense this week and all other facets of his game continue to function well, he will always be a tough nut to crack.

I found it telling how O’Sullivan spoke last week about the need to take his foot off the accelerator after running out of breath in the British Championship after winning two major titles at the start of the new season and finishing the previous one to become World Champion in the Crucible for the seventh time.

O’Sullivan said he feels refreshed after taking things quietly for a few weeks before picking up the pace in preparation for the Masters, and while things didn’t exactly go to plan there, I expect that he is in good form for a crucial point highlight of the campaign.

The opener against Barry Hawkins is a tricky opener, but you have to go back to the 2016 World Championship when O’Sullivan last lost a match between this pair at a major tournament.

Additionally, Hawkins has barely uprooted trees this season, and he certainly didn’t do it against Trump last week when he had numerous chances to win that match.

I was more taken with O’Sullivan’s form anyway.

After that, the likes of Mark Selby and Williams emerge in another difficult stretch of this star-studded draw, but the former has a terrible record at ITV events, while it would take a mammoth effort from the experienced Welshman to bounce back from another big Masters run here

O’Sullivan will still have to do it the hard way but he has a very strong record in this event and believing he’s got his game back to good shape I won’t leave the world champion at 11 unprotected /2.

Don’t lose faith in Lisowski

Further up in the draw I would like to add JACK LISOWSKI to the layout plan.

Six losses in Grand Finals and a streak in the last four of the Masters would suggest Lisowski still has a long way to go to finally win a Grand Final, but I don’t think he’s far at all and 16th want to grab /1 on sale.

It’s hard to argue with the level of form Lisowski has shown lately. He was outstanding against Higgins and Vafaei last week and his critics will point that out on his 6-0 loss to WilliamsI would take that again with a pinch of salt.

Williams was at his best in this match and taught something of a lesson to Lisowski, but the latter didn’t enjoy the run of the ball early in this match either and I’m not willing to let the last shoreline distract me from the big strides , which Lisowski has made in the last few months.

Before the Masters, he reached the semi-finals of the British Championship, where he lost to eventual winner Allen in a crucial frame. As Lisowski finished in the last eight of the World Championship in the spring, this time Higgins dashed his hopes in another crucial frame.

Those close defeats will once again throw Lisowski’s critics out of whack, but the fact of the matter is that Lisowski has reached two semifinals and one quarterfinals in the last three Triple Crown events and lost twice in very close games. That’s fine by everyone’s standards.

Finishing runner-up in 2020, Lisowski has pedigree at this event as well, and I’m firmly in camp that believe Lisowski’s game is still trending upwards. He’s always had the talent, but he’s also added some guts to his game.

It is not the finished article and may never be. But fewer players than Lisowski have become ranked champions in recent years and I really like the early part of his draw which gives him a chance to make a run.

He might have a rematch to deal with Allen in the last eight but I’m cool for Allen at the moment after such a busy period leading up to Christmas that could be hard to come by in the next month or so.

These players aren’t machines, after all, but O’Sullivan appears primed for a deep run this week, as does Lisowski, who is heading in the right direction and looks overpriced given the odds.

Posted at 1800 GMT on 01/15/23

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