OUR snooker man Michael Day (@daisy8ball) takes a look at the Monday Crucible action for us.
Ali Carter v Alan McManus | Monday 19:00 | BBC
An intriguing match between two multiple major event winners here starting Monday evening.
Ali Carter, despite being currently ranked in 31st position, has been given special dispensation (and rightfully so) for automatic qualification because of his well documented health struggles off the table earlier this season. He missed out on a lot snooker.
Alan McManus, the 1994 Masters winner, has enjoyed a surprising renaissance over the last few years. An upturn in results, and his world ranking, has seen the Scot figure at the main stages in a plethora of big events. Just 12 months ago he reached the quarter-finals here for the first time in nine years.
I can’t really read too much into this seasons results for Carter, given his off table issues – but he did actually win an invitation tournament in Hong Kong, the General Cup, when he returned to proper action.
And ‘The Captain’ boasts an impressive Crucible CV. Runner-up twice to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2008 and 2012, he was also a semi-finalist in 2010, again losing to the eventual champion, Neil Robertson. It’s also significantly interesting to note that Carter has won his first round match in the last eight consecutive World Championships.
Having only met four times in their career, the head to head record is 2-2. However Carter won their only long distance affair 9-4 in the UK Championship; but that was way back in 2005.
The Englishman is a big arena player, he rarely does well in the small PTC like events, but thrives on the big stages like the Crucible. Back in January I tipped him as an outsider to win a match at the Masters in Alexandra Palace, and he didn’t disappoint. On the same evidence and reasons I want to side with him again.
Carter can be found as long as 8/13 with title sponsors Betfred to win the match, which I think is generous enough, but I’m going to try and squeeze a little bit more out. On the handicap market he can be backed -1.5 frames at 33/40 with Sportingbet, so he can win 10-8 or better.
Even if Carter is still slightly fatigued from his previous illness problems, the match is split over two days with the action starting at 7pm on Monday and then concluding Tuesday afternoon. He should have ample rest time between the sessions.
Ali Carter v Alan McManus – Ali Carter -1.5 (33/40 Sportingbet)
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