Here is my prediction for the semi-final line-up at the 888.com World Championship:
Ding Junhui v Mark Williams
Shaun Murphy v Neil Robertson
After this I predict Ding will beat Robertson 18-10 in the final.
Before anyone suggests therapy, I should point out that I used to have a very good record in tipping the winner of the world title. This was mainly because I always used to tip Stephen Hendry.
I also called it for Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan the years they won it and, in 2003, got all four semi-finalists right.
In the last three years, though, I don’t think I’ve got any of them right. The reason is quite simple: there are so few tournaments that form is irrelevant.
OK, so Murphy, Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire have been the three form players of the season but by the time the Crucible comes round none of them will have played for three weeks (apart from Selby’s two days in the Championship League).
The last three winners – Murphy, Graeme Dott and John Higgins – all had poor seasons heading to Sheffield before finding form over the 17 days.
Ding is my tip to win, which is strange, really, when you consider he has the hardest first round draw in Marco Fu.
He could lose this but if he doesn’t I fancy him to go all the way.
Williams has, of course, been off the boil of late but let’s not forget that its only five years since he won the biggest cheque in snooker history - £270,000 – in winning the title for a second time (incidentally, I’ve no idea what the winner gets this year as the prize money appears to be a state secret).
With Ronnie O’Sullivan’s tendency this season to struggle against the more methodical players, I think Williams has a great chance to take him out in the second round.
Murphy is Mr. Consistency and although he’s in a tough quarter that includes Selby and Peter Ebdon, I reckon he’ll come through it.
Robertson has done nothing of note all season but is the sort of player who could suddenly spring into life with devastating effect.
Maguire is favourite in this quarter but has been laid up this last week with flu and unable to practice – hardly ideal preparation for the game’s biggest event.
How many of my four tips will actually reach the semis?
Probably none, but who’d bet on snooker these days? It’s never been so unpredictable.
That’s why watching the championship will be so enjoyable – anything can happen.
Please post your own predictions below.