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

Gould famously led Neil Robertson 11-5 in the second round in 2010, only for the Australian to fight back and proceed to capture his one and only world title. Mark Williams produced an unbelievable performance twelve months ago to surprise the pack and claim a third world crown, 15 years after his last success. Williams has lost the consistency that was a cornerstone of his game last season. Yet, its been a miserable time on the circuit for the Pinner Potter of late and he has been in danger of dropping outside the worlds top 32. The Welshman has been enjoying a year-long celebration since then and its fair to say that his game has suffered a touch as a result. Against Martin Gould, Williams probably could have received an easier opening challenge. A former ranking event winner, Gould has the type of game that can trouble any opponent on his day. Goulds performances at the Crucible havent been notable since and the experience, not to mention cool head, of Williams should prove to be the vital difference. As always, theres great expectation in learning who the defending champion will receive in the first round draw.

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.

It is hard to look beyond Neil Robertson in this match. Hawkins has a fair bit of fight about him but he wasnt playing all that well in the opening round. He played some excellent snooker in the first round when he was behind so if he gets off to a better start here there is every chance he could power clear of Barry Hawkins in this quarter final.

Mark Williams vs Martin Gould

Undoubtedly one of the matches of the round, twice former runner-up Ali Carters reward for emerging from the qualifiers is a date with fellow Englishman Jack Lisowski. Along with the experienced Perry and Dott, Carter is probably the player most of the seeds wanted to avoid. Still, this affair is practically a flip of a coin. Lisowski has come a long way since his 13-1 humiliation at the hands of John Higgins in the second round last year, reaching two ranking event finals and breaking into the elite top 16 for the first time in his career. The pair has met only once before, back in 2015 when the Dude pipped Carter in a decider at the International Championship and it could very well be that close again here. Whether hes been suitably tested or not could be an interesting factor. One possible bone of contention is that, while Carter ought to be warmed up nicely following three routine wins in qualifying, the Captain didnt actually play anyone higher in the rankings than Jimmy White at number 78.

But its never easy at the Crucible, never mind when its a first appearance, and facing someone like Barry Hawkins doesnt make the task any simpler. The latter, of course, has become somewhat of a master at the longer format and has reached the semi-finals or better in five out of the last six editions. Li has risen into the top 32 in the world rankings this season and is undoubtedly a dangerous player. The 28 year-old is one of six Chinese in the draw, four of whom are set to make their debuts on the famous stage. Some people might be surprised to learn that Li Hang, despite first turning professional in 2008, has never actually played in the World Championship at the Crucible. The Hawk hasnt enjoyed an especially good campaign but might fancy his chances in an open looking top quarter of the draw to repeat his now trademark run to the last four.

I sense that missing this tournament last year did not sit well with Robertson and as a result he looks to have the bit between his teeth this time around. Ill take the Australian on the form book here. He was playing the better snooker of the two coming into the tournament and he certainly played better in the opening round.

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.

NETELLER Benefits

Still, theres an opportunity for both of these players to reach the second round at the Crucible for the first time in their careers. Luca Brecel relied heavily on his China Championship victory from last season to remain inside the top 16 and gain one of the crucial automatic berths. The Belgian endured a terrible time after that breakthrough success but this months semi-final appearance in the China Open has provided a signal of a return to form. The last time Gary Wilson qualified he played Ronnie OSullivan so hell be thankful that he has been granted with a more realistic path into the last 16. Making his fourth bow at the Crucible, Brecel will be hoping that the obstacle of Wilson can lead to a stepping stone to greater glories in the event. In a first round draw that is full of eye-catching ties, this one is possibly not one that especially stands outs. When on his game, Brecel is a dangerous threat to anyone and its easy to forget that hes still only 24.

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.

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.