Zhiyuan World Open free second round betting preview and tips including Ding Junhui

Ding Junhui could struggle again
Ding Junhui could struggle again

Richard Mann previews the second-round action at the Zhiyuan World Open on Wednesday with best bets picked out in two of the ties.

Recommended bets

2pts Martin O'Donnell to beat Ding Junhui at 14/5

2pts Craig Steadman to beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh at 5/2


Martin O'Donnell v Ding Junhui (Wednesday, 1130 GMT)

Martin O'Donnell claimed one of the most significant wins of his career when beating Ding Junhui in the last 16 of the UK Championship last year and I fancy him to repeat the dose at the World Open on Wednesday.

Ding has been one of the leading performers in the sport over the last decade but has seen his star wane somewhat in the past 18 months and now finds himself out of the top 16 in the World Rankings, a remarkable fall from grace for the former UK Championship and Masters winner.

A run to the quarter-finals of the International Championship had suggested Ding was about to turn his fortunes around in the early part of the new season but that promised upturn in fortunes is yet to materialise and he was an early casualty at the English Open recently.

Ding wasn't at his best when labouring to a 5-2 victory over Billy Joe Castle in qualifying on Monday and the withdrawal of Liam Highfield from the event means he didn't have to play his first-round match.

In contrast, O'Donnell is a player very much on the upgrade and he will be hoping for even better this term having reached three quarter-finals last season.

Despite not yet scaling those heights so far in the current campaign, he produced some typically solid match-play to beat Kishan Hirani in qualifying for this event and then Chang Bingyu in round one, having also made breaks of 57, 56 and 52 when losing to eventual winner Mark Selby at the English Open recently.

O'Donnell was a shade unlucky to lose a desperately close match with the in-form Xiao Guodong at the China Championship in September, going down 5-4 having led 4-3, and I don't think he's too far away from producing similar results to those he enjoyed last term.

With Ding there to be taken on, I'm happy to chance O'Donnell at the best part of 3/1 with belief that his grinding style can knock Ding out of his stride, just as it did at York less than a year ago.

Craig Steadman v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Wednesday, 1130 GMT)

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh can probably lay claim to being one of the most naturally gifted players on the snooker circuit and he arrives at this event on the back of a really good run at the English Open.

The free-flowing left-hander eventually found Ricky Walden too strong at the last-16 stage there but confirmed he remains in good nick with a comfortable first-round defeat of Zhang Yang here on Tuesday and as a result, he is around the 1/3 mark to beat Craig Steadman in the second round.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Nevertheless, Steadman is a real street fighter who can be a particularly heavy scorer when on song and he looked sharp when producing breaks of 95, 78 and 52 to beat Ian Burns 5-1 on Monday.

Although yet to make the real breakthrough his career needs in order to fully get off the ground, his 6-3 defeat of Mark Selby at last season's China Open demonstrates what a dangerous and well-rounded operator he is on his day - breaks of 108, 86, 86, 77 and 56 in that match also highlighting his scoring capabilities.

Steadman can certainly put it up to Thepchaiya and although the latter edges the head-to-head between the pair, winning two of three previous meetings, all of those matches were closely contested and the aggregate score reads 10 frames apiece.

In summary, there is every reason to expect another close encounter and as such, the 5/2 on offer about Steadman looks worth a bet on value claims alone.

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