Jamie Cope. There’s a conundrum.
Terrific potter, heavy scorer, but he hasn’t kicked on since reaching two ranking finals in the 2006/07 season.
Given that early promise a top 16 place beckoned but he is yet to get there, although had John Higgins not beaten him 13-12 from 12-10 down at the World Championship last year he would have got in.
Does Cope go for too many low percentage pots? Possibly, but he struggles more often than not against less attacking players so at least he’ll know today’s last 16 match in Newport with Ronnie O’Sullivan will be an open affair.
It’s not unfair to say O’Sullivan doesn’t regard the Welsh Open as a major priority. He wasn’t pressured against Stuart Bingham and could conceivably coast to the title but there will surely come a time when someone will play against him and he will have to decide whether to dig deep or surrender.
He buried Cope 9-2 last time they played at the 2007 UK Championship. It may be closer today but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a shock.
Matthew Stevens made what could, in the context of his future career, be a crucial 75 clearance to pink to see off Shaun Murphy in the deciding frame of their first round match.
He faces Mark Allen this afternoon full of confidence. One ranking title is too poor a return for a player of Matthew’s class. At 32, there is still time to make amends.
John Higgins holds a 9-5 career advantage over Graeme Dott but has lost their last four meetings.
He said Dott is better than half of the current top 16 and is well placed to comment as he practises with his fellow Glaswegian.
Higgins looked very good yesterday but obviously expects a tough battle and he may well get one.
Can Andrew Higginson continue another Newport fairytale? Mark Williams will be hoping not and the form the Welshman is showing right now suggests a third Welsh Open success is entirely possible this weekend.