Welsh Open 2010: Day Two Preview

Tuesday sees the Welsh Open really kick into gear as the likes of Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan enter the competition…

World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan begins his campaign against practice partner Stuart Bingham, the man who he last beat at the World Championship in 2009. This could be an interesting match if Stuart can play to his best as he has enjoyed a quietly impressive season up to this point, winning all of his first round matches to make up for a poor 2008/9 and almost secure his top 32 status.

O’Sullivan is however a different animal and will be keen to make up for his disappointment at the recent Masters tournament when he was ambushed by Mark Selby in the final. Despite that result he is not playing too badly at the moment and in almost every tournament this season it has taken a top class player to stop him. As much as I like Stuart, I do not see him being that man this week and expect something like a 5-2 win for the rocket.

I also expect the world’s other top players such as Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy to progress, though against Welsh duo Dominic Dale and Matthew Stevens respectively, they will both meet tough resistance.

Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen however could be victim of a possible upset against Leicester’s Tom Ford, a talented player who now looks to be finding some consistency after a tough few seasons. Allen is no easy draw by any means but he has struggled for consistency and lost a few too many last 32 exits matches over the last 18 months. Could be close.

As could the match between Stephen Hendry and Dave Harold, two of snooker’s elder statesmen these days, though both are still capable of putting in a good performance every now and again. Harold’s tactical game could ask some questions of Stephen, though if his concentration is at a decent level I would expect his superior scoring to get him over the line eventually, possibly 5-3.

Many will be excited to see Tony Drago back on our screens in the other evening match and against local favourite Ryan Day there will no doubt be a strong crowd there to watch. Ryan has not been in the best form recently but I would expect him to have a bit too much for Drago, though you cannot write him off given how he has played during qualifying tournaments this season.

Finally there is the match between Mark ‘Mr Last 16’ King and Marcus Campbell, an intriguing tie between two of snooker’s most determined players. I would expect Mark to live up to his reputation and make it into the last 16 however.

Should be a good one.