ormer snooker professional Craig Edwards @EdwardsTips_ previews three opening round matches from the China Open

Mark Davis v Chang Bingyu

Monday 1st April
Head to Head 0-0
Mark Davis will be hoping that April 1st he is no April fool given he has a very awkward pre-qualifying round versus Chinese teenager Chang Bingyu. Mark Davis is a forty-six year old professional who has been on tour for thirty years making a consistent living for the last twenty-five seasons with two in the world’s top 16. This year has been one of his best making the English Open final losing a close encounter to Stuart Bingham 7-9 after beating Ronnie O'Sullivan 6-1 in the semi final which was quite an achievement when we consider “The Rocket” has only lost five of his last forty-three matches this season.
Chang Bingyu is a sixteen year old Chinese rookie professional who has already made quite an impression on his limited seven starts this season. He has won three matches, two against the European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson and one against the reliable Robert Milkins. That is an impressive start to his snooker CV and looking at the statistics of his break building from his matches he has equipped himself well.
This is an extremely difficult pre-qualifying match for Mark Davis and at the prices the Chinese teenager is an exciting bet.
Betting Odds

Mark Davis – 1/4 (1.25) Paddy Power
Chang Bingyu – 7/2 (4.50) Paddy Power
Recommended Bets

Chang Bingyu to beat Mark Davis @7/2 (4.50) Paddy Power

John Higgins v Joe O'Connor

Tuesday 2nd April
Head to Head 0-1
These two players met in The Welsh Open quarter finals only last month when Joe O'Connor shocked the snooker world beating the former world champion John Higgins 5-3 on his television debut. In reaching the semi-finals Joe O'Connor also beat top sixteen regulars Kyren Wilson and Ding Junhui previous to give him a big breakthrough in a rookie season which up until then had been a struggle. It goes to show what a difference the confidence of winning big matches can give a youngster as his level of play increased match on match. That is the beauty of betting on snooker as the bookmakers numbers can never quantify or understand.
John Higgins has been dreadful all year since losing last year’s World Championship final versus Mark Williams. It left him with no interest in practice and last months loss to Joe O'Connor was the Scotsman best effort all year at the time. He then travelled to the Indian Open where again there was slight improvement making the semi finals. No doubt he has been better focused these last few events but still his overall return is poor.
At 13/2 I am happy to bet Joe O'Connor as there are no guarantees that John Higgins form will return.
Betting Odds

John Higgins -1/8 (1.12) Unibet
Joe O'Connor - 13/2 (7.50) Ladbrokes
Recommended bet

Joe O'Connor to beat John Higgins @13/2 (7.50) Ladbrokes

Kishan Hirani v Neil Robertson

02:30 Monday 1st April
Head to Head 0-1
Like the previous match these two players paths crossed earlier in the season with Neil Robertson winning 6-2 at the UK Championship and like Joe O'Connor, Kishan Hirani has been slow in making the big step up into the professional snooker circuit. At the Welsh Open things started to change for Hirani despite losing to Mark Williams 4-3 in the opening round. The match was on the feature television table and he acquitted himself well making a century break. Since he took that confidence onto the Shootout and the qualifying round for his trip to China when he beat the Scottish Open semi finalist and fellow Welshman Daniel Wells.
Neil Robertson is having a sublime season and has re-established himself at the top of the sport after dropping out of the top sixteen at one juncture in the previous season. He started the season winning the Riga Masters, the Welsh Open recently and has been runner up in the last two events in the Coral series losing both finals to Ronnie O'Sullivan. I expect him to be third favourite for the World Championship at the end of April.
The bet I like for this match is Kishan Hirani on handicap at odds against knowing he already covered this line earlier in the season against the Australian when he had less confidence.
Betting Odds

Kishan Hirani - 18/1 (19.00) Bet365
Neil Robertson - 1/33 (1.03) Bet365
Recommended Bet

Kishan Hirani +4.5 frame handicap v Neil Robertson @11/10 (2.10) Ladbrokes