The Masters snooker tips
Following his victory at the UK Championship last month, Ronnie O'Sullivan is the firm favourite at 7/4 to make a successful title defence at the Masters, which gets under way at Alexandra Palace on Sunday. Coverage of the tournament is live across the BBC.
The Rocket has claimed this title five times and has won five of his last nine events and the way he played with an injured foot at the Barbican in York suggests he remains a level above the rest of the field, even though he was so nearly pegged back by Judd Trump in a thrilling final.
The only question mark about O'Sullivan has always been around his attitude, but he appears to be completely focused on his game and it will take a special performance to beat him. Mark Selby, who has won the Masters three times in the last seven years and lost to O'Sullivan in two other finals in that time, could be the biggest threat.
Selby of course beat O'Sullivan 18-14 in last year's World Championship final and also beat him 10-9 in the final of this event back in 2010, so he does have what it takes to rise to the big occasion and take out the sport’s biggest star. However, since winning his first world title he has struggled to maintain that high standard and he has yet to reach the final of a ranking event this season. Selby is a best price of 8/1 with Coral and William Hill.
After coming so close to toppling O'Sullivan in York, Trump is the second favourite for this event at best odds of 13/2 with Sky Bet and Betfred. Trump has lost three finals since winning the Australian Goldfields Open in June, the last two of those defeats coming against O'Sullivan - who he can't meet until the final at Alexandra Palace.
Although his form is good, this 16-man tournament hasn't been Trump's best event over the years, with only one semi-final appearance to his name and he was beaten in the first round by Marco Fu last year. With only one victory in his last 21 ranking events, he looks a little short at that price.
Neil Robertson, who won twice last season and retained his title at the Wuxi Classic at the start of this campaign, is a 7/1 chance with Coral. The Australian is a previous Masters champion having beaten Shaun Murphy in the 2012 final and he was then defeated by Selby in the final the following year.
Ding Junhui, the winner of five ranking titles in the 2013/14 season, has lost all three of his matches at the Masters since winning the title in 2010 and has so far failed to make any impact during the current season. Like Trump and Selby, he can't meet O'Sullivan until the final but in his current form odds of 8/1 (generally) look unappealing.
Mark Allen, who does not have a great record in ranking events but who has reached two finals this season, represents a danger to Ding in the second round if he can get past an out-of-form John Higgins, but the pick of the bets look to be Selby and Robertson. An each-way bet pays half the odds if they reach the final.
|Mark Selby (ew)||Tournament Winner
||8/1||Coral & William Hill|
|Neil Robertson (ew)||Tournament Winner
|£20 free bet||£25 free bet|