The penultimate day of qualifying for the European Masters takes place inside the Morningside Arena on Friday when another 12 places in the main draw will be won across three more sessions of play.
The bigger names are slowly starting to come to the party and we have more of those on show on Friday as everyone in action goes in search of the five frames that they need to ensure they qualify for the main draw.
Tom Ford is the highest ranked player on show in the morning session as he gets his new season up and running as he skipped the Championship League competition. He takes on the Brazilian player Victor Sarkis for a place in the main draw. The Shootout champion Chris Wakelin made it to the final day of the Championship League and he’ll be looking to make progress in this tournament as well. He is up in the morning session against Thor Chuan Leong. Ashley Hugill is looking to make strides in the game this season and he’ll be out to beat Long Zehuang with the other match in the morning session seeing the former Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown going up against Ma Hailong.
Two very recognisable names grace the green baize in the afternoon session on Friday with the Championship League finalist Mark Williams the highest ranked player on show. He will look to get over his disappointment last week when he takes on Zhang Anda. The other household name is Barry Hawkins and he will face Sean O’Sullivan for a spot in Germany. The other two matches are of a lower key with Robbie Williams looking to make progress when he goes up against John Astley, who didn’t have a bad Championship League campaign. Ryan Thomerson and Ishpreet Singh Chadha meet in the other game in a huge opportunity for both men.
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Two more household names are on show in the evening session. Ali Carter already has a win in Germany on his record in 2023 and he’ll be looking to qualify for another tournament in that part of the world when he meets the Welsh amateur Alfie Davies. Dave Gilbert is a ranking event winner and he’ll look to make the main draw at the expense of Oliver Lines, who is expecting a big season from himself. Matthew Selt finished last season in fine form and will be looking to make the main draw when he takes on Anthony Hamilton. The other match in the evening session sees David Grace going up against Scott Donaldson.
It is that last match which forms my betting interest on Friday as David Grace goes up against Scott Donaldson. The Scot deserves a lot of credit for perseverance after the issues he has been going through with his tremor and things which ultimately caused his withdrawal in World Championship qualifying in the middle of the match. To be fair, he didn’t look great at the Championship League and you suspect that is still an issue. He only made one 50 break all day.
To be fair, Grace didn’t fare much better in the Championship League but he had a tougher group and still made a couple of 50s despite his struggles. What I like about Grace though is he finished last season well and often when you get a taste of something like a match at the Crucible it fuels you on to achieve it again and that memory should still be fresh enough to fire him up here. On his run to the Crucible, Grace beat Sam Craigie but the positive for us here is he didn’t perform in Sheffield and that will act as all the motivation he needs to be competitive this season. I think he’ll overcome Donaldson in this one.
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