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

To seal his debut at the Crucible, the 31 year-old overcame Soheil Vahedi before standout successes over world number 17 Ryan Day and two-time former finalist Matthew Stevens. That said, the five-time ranking event winner has produced a relatively consistent season and will be hoping to improve on a dismal recent Crucible record that reads six first round defeats in the last eight years. Tians next opponent will be Stephen Maguire, who was once thought of as a nailed on world champion. Other qualifiers gained more headlines but one of the most impressive of the lot was Tian Pengfei. Now 38, Maguire often acts like a player who doesnt really have much belief in his game. Things havent quite worked out that way for the Scot despite once claiming that it would be a failure if he didnt etch his name on the trophy before the age of 30.

Its been a dire campaign for the duo and they have rarely featured at the business end of events. In the Chinese number ones favour at least is a head-to-head record against McGill that reads four and zero. Few were probably expecting the Scot to advance from the qualifiers but a remarkable turnaround from 7-2 behind against Robert Milkins on Judgement Day proved the doubters wrong. Ding has long held the weight of a nation on his shoulders but his quest for the ultimate title has so far eluded him and its difficult to envisage that changing in 2019. Ding knows all too well how momentum can develop after reaching the final in 2016 on the back of emerging from the preliminary stages. This has the makings of a scrappy contest and its hard to see either of them producing the necessary goods this year to challenge the main contenders. A repeat of their second round clash twelve months ago when Ding Junhui thrashed Anthony McGill 13-4, the pair cross paths again in Sheffield. Both Ding and McGill will be looking to lock the memories of this season up and throw away the key, unless they can conjure up something special in the next fortnight or so.

Zhao gave Selby a stern check in the semi-finals of the China Championship in September the only piece of silverware in Selbys cabinet from a forgettable period. A lot depends on which Selby actually turns up. The Jester just lost his coveted world number one position for the first time in more than four years and has looked a shadow of the self that captured three world titles in four years between 2014 and 2017. Thats what a lot of people are wondering as we get set for the 2019 World Snooker Championship. The 22 year-old must have been a despondent character twelve months ago when he dropped off the Main Tour but immediately bounced back via Q School and in one season is already in the cusp of breaking into the top 64 in the world rankings. Theres no reason to think that Zhao, a heavy scorer when in full flow, cant put it up to the Leicesterman again on this occasion. Zhao Xintong is arguably the most improved player of the season. Most of his strong showings have come in China and its against one of that nations highly fancied young stars who he faces first. Which Mark Selby is going to turn up? Selbys displays on home soil have predominantly been dismal, reaching the last four of a UK-based ranking event only twice in two years.

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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.

Two of the most enjoyable players to watch on the entire circuit when in full flow, this could really be a barnstorming battle between a pair of heavy scorers. Un-Nooh, the quickest player on the tour, is capable of running off frames in quick succession and one suspects that the 34 year-old will need that kind of fire power in order to match Trump. The first couple of players out of the bag in Thursday mornings draw were Judd Trump and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. A possible crucial quarter-final with OSullivan awaits but first Trump will have to take the necessary precautions to overcome a skillful opponent in Un-Nooh. Trump, now a Masters champion, has matured immensely since then and is rightly considered to be one of the favourites for the title overall. Un-Nooh gave John Higgins a decent run on his debut in 2018 and Trump can probably expect a similarly tough test next week as the Thai returns for a second crack at the Crucible. As you can see, the bottom section is littered with thrilling looking ties and this one is no different. The latter has come a long way, though, since his desperate first round defeat to Rory McLeod in 2017.

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.

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.

Barry Hawkins v Neil Robertson

He usually delivers the goods in the second half of the season but in truth he was nothing special against Murphy, he was just fortunate that the Scottish Open finalist had a bit of a mare and never got going. I expected to see a good game from Barry Hawkins in this tournament. Hawkins will definitely need to play much better if he is to come through this match.

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.

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.