Mark Selby could easily have been eliminated from the Welsh Open at the last 32 stage after Sam Baird gave him a real scare, although the 23-year-old was unable to win that crucial final frame and the Jester hasn’t looked back since.
Selby has subsequently beaten Martin Gould, Stephen Maguire and Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach the final, with the number two seed beating the Rocket 6-2 and playing to a very high standard throughout the contest.
While O’Sullivan blew more cold than hot on Saturday evening, this was testament to his opponent making life difficult for the three-time world champion and the bookies have made Selby the favourite to claim the 2012 Welsh Open on Sunday.
You can back the 28-year-old at odds of 4/6 (Stan James – £150 free bets) and his route to the final has been pretty tough when you consider that Maguire and O’Sullivan were the two finalists at the recent German Masters.
There’s also an element of fortune about Ding Junhui being in the final of this competition considering that Stephen Lee could have won the deciding frame of their quarter final contest before a mobile phone distracted the latter on an easy green and the Chinaman was able to take advantage.
Ding was also a comfortable winner in his semi by beating Shaun Murphy 6-2 and the 24-year-old beat Mark Selby in last year’s World Championship by a 13-10 scoreline which demonstrates that he won’t be disrupted by his opponents’ slow play in the same way that the Rocket was in the semi.
Ding can be backed at 5/4 (Sky Bet free bet) and some will consider this a value bet considering there should be little between the two players. It was certainly the case at the Wuxi Classic at the start of the season when Selby edged the match 6-5.