Saturday, 6 July 2013

Perry to taste glory again - Australian Open Snooker 2013 Preview

The  snooker tour heads to Australia next week where on Monday, Bendigo will again host the Australian Open - the third and final year of a three year deal.

Eight top players haven't entered so the field is somewhat depleted. Players absent include John Higgins, Judd Trump, Stephen Maguire - and World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan who has never played in the event.

Barry Hawkins is best-priced 16/1 to defend his title. But the lack of the usual really strong field will give the rookies a better chance - simply because rookies are now a lot closer to the top stars and here they haven't a wall of these top players in their quarter.

Joe Perry goes down under in a rich vein of form. Increasingly on the modern tour and especially in the Barry Hearn era of conveyor belt snooker even the journeymen are match sharp and very used to playing. This is evident with Perry who won Asian Tour One last month - beating Robert Milkins and Mark Selby on the way to the title. In addition he was clinical and more confident in Wuxi a fortnight ago until John Higgins beat him 5-2.

Perry - In good enough form to win here at a really big price.

And make no mistake this was a Higgins who looked the likely winner until Aussie Neil Robertson who is 4/1 favourite here (PaddyPower) was as hard as nails in the final. Although the Scot didn't have much run and on another day things could have been different. The 66/1 (youwin) is ridiculously big. Best elsewhere is 33/1 and although in Robertson's quarter 20/1 would still be worth a punt. Especially as Robertson has really struggled on home turf in the two previous outings.

Elsewhere Ian Burns is one of the most improved players on the circuit - he qualified for the TV stages of the Welsh Open and World Open last season.

He opens against Mark Selby who has shown recently he is no machine - and increasingly to prevail he needs to make it scrappy. Which is a shame because going for his shots he is amongst the very, very best. Selby is top drawer but it's no sadness to see him lose when he intentionally draws things out.

A lot of the time it means his opponents get frustrated (or embarrassed in front of an audience) and take on one shot too many. The Jester manages the table so well it usually means he gets the upper hand. Burns at 11/2 (Ladbrokes) to win the match is worth a punt and a small punt at 33/1 (general) to make the semi-final and so win this fourth quarter.

Ding Junhui is well drawn in quarter one and his best will probably be good enough to prevail here. We can forget his third round defeat by Perry in China two weeks ago - Perry was brilliant and Ding invariably struggles on home soil. A straight win at the 8/1 (general ) on the Chinese star as a saver is recommended.