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Snooker: Adrian Humphries' UK Championship tips

The first major of the season, the UK Championship, gets underway in York on Saturday and Adrian Humphries has delivered his top tips.

Ronnie O’Sullivan edges favouritism over Neil Robertson and Judd Trump and all three luminaries could have a big say in proceedings in the coming week at the Barbican Centre.

Zhao Xintong is the reigning champion following his brilliant triumph in last year’s tournament, and the Chinese talent has kicked on from that win since. 

He should post a solid defence of his title, but there may be one or two to deny him this season.

O’Sullivan and John Higgins are the shortest-priced of the famous Class of 1992 trio, but it’s the third member, Mark Williams, who could offer most value if he backs up the excellent form he displayed in the World Championship in Sheffield in April.

Another player who stepped up to the plate like never before was Jack Lisowski and Jackpot, as the Gloucestershire potter is known, could be a tough opponent for anyone if bringing his A-game to the table over the next nine days.

What:

UK Championship 2022

Where:

Barbican Centre, York

When:

Saturday 12th November - Sunday 20th November 2022

How to watch:

Eurosport and bet365's Sports Live Streaming

Odds:

Ronnie O’Sullivan 9/2, Neil Robertson 5/1, Judd Trump 5/1, Mark Selby 9/1, Mark Allen 14/1

Reigning champion Zhao set for sturdy title defence 

Zhao heads the draw for the UK Championship and the defending champion could take plenty of stopping in what looks the weakest of the four quarters. 

He was a stunning winner of last year’s Barbican Centre tournament. The Chinese player fully deserved his triumph and he hasn’t looked back since lifting his first major trophy.

It looks as if Zhao’s chief threats in his section could be fellow seeds Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson. 

But Allen, who retained the Northern Ireland Open crown recently, is seldom the most consistent of performers and while it’s probably only a matter of time before Wilson wins a major title of his own, he’s a player who the oddsmakers keep on their side.

Two interesting qualifiers in the first quarter are Sam Craigie and Jimmy White. 

Craigie has been under pressure to start producing the goods and it’s just possible that he may finally be starting to deliver on the big stage. 

Meanwhile, veteran campaigner White, 60, was superb in reaching the finals - he defeated Stephen Maguire and Dominic Dale among others - and it’s just possible he could carry over his good work at the Barbican. 

Craigie is 22/1 to reach the semi-finals, while White is an 80/1 chance to do likewise.

However, Zhao possesses such a solid all-round game that he can put up a decent title defence and win his quarter at 5/2.

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Lisowski could be the one to deny Selby and Trump

Judd Trump heads the betting to win the second quarter and the Ace in the Pack could take plenty of stopping after returning to somewhere near his best at the Champion of Champions event.

Trump, joint second-favourite for the title at 5/1, is 11/8 to come through a section including four-time Crucible king Mark Selby and reach the semi-finals. 

An interesting contender in this section is Lisowski, who found new levels in his game in matches against Robertson and Higgins at the World Championship in April.

Lisowski appeals as the main outright bet at 33/1 for the Barbican Centre and he can also be backed at 7/1 to win his quarter and 16/1 to reach the final, especially considering the holy trio of the Class of 1992 - O’Sullivan, Higgins and Williams - are all in the other half of the draw.

Lisowski opens his title tilt with a clash against promising youngster Xu Si, but it’s a match he should come through.

Shaun Murphy has a tough-looking date with qualifier Dave Gilbert, who at his best is capable of troubling any opponent.

Take a chance on Lyu coming up trumps in third quarter

Into the bottom half of the draw, which looks as if it could take a lot more winning than the top half, and 5/1 joint-title second favourite Neil Robertson has been handed a potentially difficult opener against his regular practice partner and friend Joe Perry.

The Thunder from Down Under, as the Melbourne ace is known, ought to prevail but Perry was in great form in the qualifiers, defeating former world champion Graeme Dott 6-0.

Higgins is 3/1 second favourite to win the third quarter behind 5/4 market leader Robertson, but the Scot hasn’t always been at his brilliant best in this event and he can be taken on at the odds available.

Tom Ford, 18/1 to win the quarter, opens against Higgins and could trouble the Scot, while Perry is 20/1 to reach the semis.

However, at a generous price, it could pay to take a chance on China’s Lyu Haotian upsetting the odds in this section. 

Lyu has started the season in positive manner and is reasonable value at 22/1 to win his first three matches.

Williams may be capable of bringing down the Rocket

The all-conquering O’Sullivan, who was recently crowned Champion of Champions, is the man to beat in York. 

The Rocket is 9/2 favourite to take the title, and 5/2 joint-favourite to reach the final.

O’Sullivan, who opens against another former UK champion in Matthew Stevens, is going to be difficult to stop in his section and half of the draw, but if anyone could upset him it’s his fellow Class of 92 legend Williams.

The Welsh potting machine produced arguably the best snooker in this year’s World Championship and, while he remains in awe of O’Sullivan as a player, Williams may be playing well enough to surprise him should they meet in the last eight.

Because of this, backing Williams at 9/2 to win the fourth quarter and 9/1 to reach the final could be prudent, while outright punters are also not put off getting involved at 20/1.

After Lisowski, Williams, who should come through his opening match against compatriot Jamie Clarke in decent style, appeals as the next best value in the outright market.

Ding Junhui is also in this section and merits respect, but the Chinese qualifier may not be at his brilliant best for this outing.

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