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Mark Selby v Joe O'Connor: Prediction, Tips and Odds

Having finished runner-up to Luca Brecel in last year’s World Championship, four-time world champion Mark Selby will be looking to send out a statement in his opening round clash with practice partner Joe O'Connor.

Mark Selby comes alive at the World Snooker Championship, having won the title on four occasions and finished runner-up twice including last year, and he will be expected to make light work of Joe O'Connor.

The Jester from Leicester has had an inconsistent season, winning only the Championship League, but he tends to peak for the Crucible and is almost certain to have his game in good shape.

Selby, runner-up to Luca Brecel last season, has crashed out in the first round only once in his last 11 visits to Sheffield so it’s hard to make a case for his opening opponent O'Connor springing a surprise.

That said, O'Connor, who is making his Crucible debut, should be able to settle as he is a regular practice partner of Selby and will know he can be competitive.

Despite being considered a Crucible specialist, Selby often takes time to find his mojo and he won’t be taking anything for granted against his younger rival.

Mark Selby v Joe O'Connor

Mark Selby v Joe O'Connor betting tips and predictions

Joe O'Connor +3.5 games on the handicap - 10/11

Many may be anticipating an easy time for Selby, who has claimed the title in four of the last ten seasons as well as making another final and a semi-final.

However, it can take time for the seeds to find top stride against a player who is razor-sharp and full of belief having come through qualifying.

That should be the case with O'Connor, who is making his Crucible debut having thrashed Julien Leclercq 10-1 before recording a 10-8 victory over Matthew Selt.

The most impressive aspect of O'Connor is his temperament and it is difficult to see him being overawed by the occasion.

The 28-year-old had a season to remember last year, reaching the final of the Scottish Open and making the semi-final of the Players Championship.

That should stand him in good stead for this and he should be feeling even more comfortable as Selby is a good mentor and regular practice partner of his.

That may allow him to settle quickly and, with Selby hinting that he was unhappy with his form following his 10-8 loss to Gary Wilson at the recent Tour Championship, it could be tighter than the prices suggest.

Selby has yet to lose to O'Connor in seven previous meetings but the youngster has an advantage of knowing his opponent’s game inside out.

That makes him a fascinating contender and suggests he can win at least seven frames and make Selby pull out all of the stops.

The Jester from Leicester made last season’s final but his opening-round assignment against Selt finished 10-8 while in 2022 he was a 10-7 winner in his first-round clash with Jamie Jones.

Under 2.5 centuries - 11/10

Despite having to win 20 frames to advance to the Crucible, O'Connor made only two centuries with breaks of 117 and 113 being the best that he compiled.

O'Connor is renowned for his solid play rather than his heavy scoring, modelling his game on that of Selby’s, and that suggests this first-round encounter may be more gritty than spectacular.

So backing under 2.5 centuries at 11/10 may be the approach to take given both players may be a bit sceptical against an opponent they know so well.

Players often need time to settle at the Crucible, which would be even more understandable for debutant O’Connor, and that could mean things are even more scrappier than usual.

Mark Selby v Joe O'Connor odds

Mark Selby - 1/5
Joe O'Connor -

View the full market and more odds for Mark Selby v Joe O'Connor on site.

Read Mark Selby v Joe O'Connor how to watch, TV channel, head-to-head stats, team news and more on site.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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