The second day of action at the European Masters sees the first round of the main draw completed and a couple of the second round matches being played on what looks to be another exciting day of snooker out in Germany.
We’ve seen all of the big stars on show this week and they will be back out against on Wednesday as they look to move closer to winning the first proper ranking event of what is a much longer season this time around.
There are some seriously juicy matches taking place over the course of the morning session on Wednesday but the pick of them is very much the one between the UK Championship winner Mark Allen and the Thai machine Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. That will be on the main table while on the streamed tables we will get to see Mark Selby again when the world finalist meets Adam Duffy. Dave Gilbert will be on another of the tables when he meets the multiple women’s world champion Reanne Evans while Stuart Bingham faces Xiao Guodong in another intriguing match.
Noppon Saengkham will be one of the players on show in the three matches which aren’t being streamed in the morning session. The Thai player meets the veteran Mark Davis while Pang Junxu will be looking to continue his progression in the game when he takes on a Robbie Williams who has shown some decent form recently. Zak Surety and Jiang Jun meet in the other match in what is a huge opportunity for both men.
Five members of the top 16 in the world will grace the baize in the afternoon session on Wednesday and four of them will be on the streamed tables. One table will be occupied by the defending champion Kyren Wilson. He faces the veteran Alfie Burden in an intriguing match. Judd Trump is not short of motivation heading into the new season and he has a date with the former Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown while Mark Williams will take on his fellow Welsh legend Matthew Stevens.
Such is the quality on show in this session, Ali Carter doesn’t get a spot on a streamed table. He will be looking for back-to-back wins in Germany this week having landed the German Masters earlier in the year. He meets Ashley Hugill while elsewhere on the outside tables we have Anthony Hamilton, who has already won in Germany previously, taking on Louis Heathcote and the talented Ben Mertens going up against Sanderson Lam.
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We have a mixture of first and second round matches in the evening session, although we have one fewer match than expected after Liu Hongyu had visa issues and can’t compete which has given Wu Yize a route into the next round. That leaves Shaun Murphy as the highest ranked player on show in this session. He meets Daniel Wells in a clash which has banana skin written all over it. John Higgins will be on one of the streamed tables in this session. He competes in the second round against Zhou Yuelong in the pick of the matches on the day while sees the former winner of this event in Jimmy Robertson going up against the Scottish player Scott Donaldson, who is looking for a big week to ease his health issues.
Just the two matches will take place on the outside tables in this session and they are both first round games as the finalist from last season, Barry Hawkins, takes on a James Cahill who has built a reputation for taking care of the bigger names in his career. The other match sees Allan Taylor, who took care of Hossein Vafaei in ruthless fashion on Tuesday, meeting Duane Jones, who himself had a good win over Dominic Dale on the opening day.
I’ll go with one bet over the course of Wednesday and that comes in the form of the match between Ben Mertens and Sanderson Lam where I expect the Belgian player to be far too good for the Englishman. That has been the case in their two meetings at the lower levels and I see no reason why that will change now. Lam deserves a lot of credit for hanging around at the lower end of the tour but I think there is much more upside than that in Mertens.
Mertens looks like one of the best talents to come onto the scene in a while. He can score like he has been at this level for much of his life but he isn’t shabby when it comes to the safety game. What I really like about Mertens is how he seems to thrive on the big stage. A number of players these days are fine in the behind closed doors qualifying stuff but when it comes to playing in front of a crowd they wilt. Mertens if anything is the other way round and that bodes well. He has beaten Lam 3-0 and 4-1 on the lower tours and I expect something as comfortable here.
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