It’s been the most unpredictable championship I can remember here at the Crucible. As soon as anyone becomes favourite they get knocked out in the next!
It’s been so weird. Players have played brilliantly in one round and not good the next, and we’ve ended up with this final four who not many would’ve predicted at the start of the tournament.
Kyren Wilson v John Higgins
Of the big guns, John Higgins has been very good this tournament so far. He’s had victories over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first round, Jack Lisowski, and then won last night’s thriller with Judd Trump.
He was 11-9 down in that match, but showed all his tenacity and experience to come through. You won’t be a four-time world champion if you can’t dig in like that.
He’s survived that really tough match, and the opening session today might be difficult for John after the euphoria of that victory.
As for Kyren Wilson, he’s not really been pressed at all so far this tournament. He’s had wins over Matthew Stevens, Jamie Jones and a strangely subdued Mark Allen.
He sensed Allen was weaker in that match and went through playing his best snooker of the championship so far.
The first session could be a tough one. If Higgins can hang in there early he won’t be playing tonight so he’ll get a good night’s rest and can come back tomorrow fresh.
Kyren Wilson to win the first session or in the Race to Three markets might be good value today. Wilson will be thinking about the fatigue of a late finish last night, and would be looking to press any advantage early on.
If John gets out of the session around about 4-4 that’ll be good.
I’m going to go John Higgins to win this anyway. He beat Kyren Wilson 13-6 in the World Championships last year and I think he’ll be confident of doing the same again. I would think it’ll finish up somehwere around 17-13 to John.
Barry Hawkins v Mark Williams
It’s unbelievable what Mark Williams is doing. We’re calling him the Renaissance Man.
He’s won three tournaments this season. He’s been very impressive here, he’s striking the ball beautifully, his match-play has been excellent. He’s had wins over Jimmy Robertson, Rob Milkens and Ali Carter, who he outfoxed last night with his clever match-play and Carter had no answer.
He takes on Barry Hawkins, who absolutely demolished Ding Junhui in their quarter-final. Williams will put up a sterner resistance than Ding, who didn’t play anything like he can in that match. It even looked like he threw the towel in, losing 13-5 in a very one-sided contest.
Hawkins is brilliant at the Crucible. I’ve tipped him up many times when he’s come here, he’s reached the final before, when only Ronnie O’Sullivan stopped him from winning it all.
This is a really tough semi-final to pick. I’m going to for the experience of Mark Williams to make the difference in the end. He’s playing brilliantly this season too.
You shouldn’t underestimate Barry Hawkins though, and I expect this could go right down to the wire.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this finishes 17-16 when it plays out.
If you fancy the “old man double” of John Higgins to beat Kyren Wilson and Mark Williams to sneak past Barry Hawkins you can get 6/4 or thereabouts on it, and, of the four remaining, I’d fancy John Higgins take home the trophy at 13/10.