Here’s our preview of day 5 of the Dafabet World Championship as the last of the first round matches get underway…
NEIL ROBERTSON v ROBBIE WILLIAMS
(Wednesday 2.30pm and Thursday 7pm)
It’s been a long wait for Robertson to get started and that could be a good thing because he ended the China Open final a couple of weeks ago looking like he needed a month in bed. A virus combined with a lot of snooker left the Aussie physically drained but he’s had a rest and will be raring to make amends for his disappointing exit at the hands of Robert Milkins in the first round 12 months ago.
In fact, since winning the world title in 2010 Robertson has only won two matches at the Crucible, both in reaching the quarter-finals in 2012.
All things being equal he will beat Williams, who squeaked through after a terrific recovery from 7-2 down to Fergal O’Brien, beating the Dubliner 10-9 on a re-spotted black. All things being equal, though, Ding Junhui would have beaten Michael Wasley. The big difference however between snooker’s two leading non-British stars is that Robertson has won the world title whereas Ding seems to have a serious problem with the Crucible.
Pressure has once again come on the game’s top players in the first round this year and some have been found wanting. Robertson knows defeat would be a huge shock and this only adds to the tension – but he’s made of tough stuff.
PREDICTION: Robertson 10-5
MARK DAVIS v DOMINIC DALE
(Wednesday 7pm and Thursday 1pm)
These two 40-somethings are evenly matched. Davis is the seeded player but Dale played well to beat Andrew Higginson at the qualifiers last week and his enthusiasm for snooker remains undimmed after more than 20 years on the tour.
Davis beat John Higgins in the first round last year. Dale hasn’t won a match at the Crucible for 14 years, reaching the quarter-finals in 2000.
However, the Spaceman hasn’t played here every year since and this is his best chance to get through the first round for a long time.
PREDICTION: Dale 10-7
Photographs by Monique Limbos.