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Players Championship day two preview: Ronnie O’Sullivan the headline act in Telford

It’s day two of the Players Championship from the Telford International Centre and Ronnie O’Sullivan will be out to emulate Judd Trump and John Higgins by sealing his place in the quarter-final.

Trump outclassed Chris Wakelin 6-2 while Higgins edged past Ding Junhui 6-4 on Monday evening to secure their place in the last eight and the Rocket, competing in only his second match since winning the World Grand Prix in January, is 2/9 to make a triumphant return to action against Zhou Yuelong.

O’Sullivan’s showdown with Yuelong is one of four last-16 contests as Mark Allen meets Mark Williams, Welsh Open hero Gary Wilson takes on Hossein Vafaei and Tom Ford clashes with Ali Carter.

They all make for competitive betting heats, especially the two matches in the afternoon session with Wilson 4/5 and his opponent Vafaei 1/1, while Allen is 8/11 to come past Williams, who is available at 11/10.

Yuelong out to end his Ronnie hoodoo  

Yuelong crept into the 16-strong field as the 15th seed and his reward for sealing his spot in the ranking event is a first-round showdown with O’Sullivan.

That would probably look like being the worst draw possible for Yuelong as he has lost all six meetings with the Rocket, and two of their three best-of-11 meetings have resulted in whitewash wins.

However, the Chinese cueman has shown plenty of hunger in their last two rivalries despite coming unstuck in a deciding frame on each occasion.

O’Sullivan defeated Yuelong 6-5 at the UK Championship in December while they met again at the World Grand Prix last month with the Rocket prevailing 4-3.

Ronnie went on to win both of those tournaments which suggests that Yuelong is in decent touch and may now have the belief to get that long-awaited victory under his belt.

The Rocket’s only appearance since he won the World Grand Prix title on 21st January was a World Open qualifying win over Alfie Burden, a contest he triumphed 5-3 in.

The 48-year-old withdrew from both the German Masters and the Welsh Open, citing to prioritise his "health and wellbeing", so it is tough to know what shape he will return in.

O’Sullivan has twice won this event and finished runner-up once from only six appearances in the competition and he is 9/2 to take the title again.

However, he looks best watched from an outright perspective given his recent absence and that may mean that Yuelong represents value, especially on the handicap.

Yuelong is 10/3 to spring the surprise, which is worth considering, but backing him to cover the handicap like he has done in their last two meetings is a much safer strategy.

Consistent Carter can be captain

Carter is enjoying somewhat of a resurgence with this season’s efforts resulting in runner-up finishes at the Wuhan Open and the Masters.

The Captain also won last season’s German Masters, a title he soared to with an emphatic 10-3 win over Ford in the final.

That means Carter has won five of his seven previous meetings with Ford, with one of his two defeats coming at the one-frame Snooker Shoot Out.

With that head-to-head dominance and Carter having also won nine of his last 13 matches, he is a difficult man to oppose and odds of 4/7 rightly represent his chances.

However, it could be worth backing the Essex cueman to cover a handicap of -1.5 frames at 10/11 as only one of his last seven matches have gone the distance.

Allen may have Welshman’s measure 

Allen looked to be in excellent shape on his run to the Welsh Open quarter-final last week, posting some big breaks in convincing wins before bumping into Higgins.

However, it was a strong enough indication that he is peaking at the perfect time in the season and he appears to be in better form than Williams.

Williams was beaten 4-1 by Anthony McGill in the second round of the Welsh Open most recently, which came on the back of a narrow 4-3 win over the lowly-ranked Sanderson Lam in his opening assignment.

That means the Welshman has lost three of his last five matches and he has also been beaten in nine of his last 11 meetings with Allen, which doesn’t bode well for their latest rivalry.

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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