IF you’ve got a few quid to spare you wouldn’t go far wrong in plumping a wager on Mark Allen to win this year’s Betfred.com World Championship.
The Ulsterman has nothing to lose after his “Alex Higgins” moment here in Sheffield.
Antrim’s Allen kept his Crucible title hopes alive with a breathtaking 10-9 final frame victory over Matthew Stevens earlier this week.
And the jubilant 25-year-old celebrated his stunning comeback by embracing his daughter, Lauren, as soon as he’d won a dramatic deciding frame.
Allen’s celebrations were reminiscent of the joyous celebrations of the late Alex Higgins, his Northern Ireland compatriot, when the “Hurricane” won the world title in 1982.
Allen’s dramatic first round victory was all the more remarkable because he’s suffering with depression. If can show character like that when he’s been down in the dumps, it just makes you wonder what he’s capable of when he’s happy with life.
Mark Williams, the two-time world champion, maintained his fine form this season and put one foot in the quarter-finals.
The Welshman, a Crucible winner in 2000 and 2003, powered into a commanding 7-1 over Stoke’s Jamie Cope after the opening session of their last 16 match.
Mark Selby, the 2007 runner-up, needed just over half an hour to convert an 8-1 overnight lead to beat qualifier Jimmy Robertson 10-1 in the final session of their first round clash.
MORNING (10am): Ali Carter (Eng) v Graeme Dott (Sco) - maximum of eight frames, Mark Williams (Wal) v Jamie Cope (Eng) - maximum of eight frames.
AFTERNOON (2.30pm): Judd Trump (Eng) v Martin Gould (Eng) - maximum of eight frames; Mark Allen (NIre) v Barry Hawkins (Eng) - maximum of eight frames.
EVENING (7pm): Ali Carter (Eng) v Graeme Dott (Sco) - maximum of eight frames, Mark Williams (Wal) v Jamie Cope (Eng) - to a finish.