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Welsh Open day five preview - Luca Brecel could take all the beating

It is quarter-final day at the Welsh Open at Venue Cymru in Llandudno and, while there are a few surprise packages still standing, there are also a trio of heavy hitters involved.

Mark Allen meets John Higgins in a mouthwatering last-eight contest and the reward for the winner will be a semi-final showdown with Anthony McGill or Gary Wilson.

Along with Allen and Higgins, reigning world champion Luca Brecel is the other leading light hoping to claim silverware and his route to the final looks potentially easier.

Brecel faces Martin O'Donnell in his quarter-final clash and victory would set up a semi-final date with one of Dominic Dale or Elliot Slessor, two players ranked outside the world’s top 40.

That is why Brecel heads the betting at 15/8 as many expect him to make the final with Allen 10/3 and Higgins available at 7/2.

It is 9/1 bar the big three with Wilson and McGill, who meet in the last eight, both available at that price.

Mark Allen set for some revenge

Higgins had Allen’s measure in the recent German Masters, easing to a 5-2 success in their last 16 encounter, but there is every reason to believe the Northern Irishman can exact his revenge.

Allen’s performances have improved as the tournament has progressed and, since being pushed to a deciding frame in his held-over qualifier with Cao Yupeng, he has barely put a foot wrong.

The Pistol has dropped only one frame in his subsequent three Welsh Open outings, recording 4-0 wins over Mai Hailong and Robbie Williams while seeing off the dangerous Si Jiahui 4-1.

Allen has had a century in all four of his wins and he appears to be growing in strength as the tournament reaches its business end.

Higgins, meanwhile, had to work harder to see off last-16 rival Matthew Selt, coming from 3-1 behind to get the job done.

But Allen appears to be in slightly better touch and he has won three of their last four meetings so appeals plenty at 4/5 to secure a semi-final spot.

Experience could be key for Dominic Dale

This represents a huge opportunity for one of Dale or Slessor with a semi-final place up for grabs and experience could be key to picking the winner.

It may be 20 years since Dale last reached the Welsh Open semi-final but the home favourite will have the Llandudno crowd on his side, which gives him every chance of emulating that feat.

Dale is not the force he once was but performances have been steady at Venue Cymru and there was plenty to like about his 4-0 whitewash win over Jak Jones in the previous round.

Slessor may have claimed two notable scalps in Ali Carter and Fan Zhengyi but his temperament can sometimes be questioned and Dale will put him under serious pressure.

There is little to separate the pair in the betting but the 11/10 on offer for Dale could represent the value.

Luca Brecel going through the gears

Brecel has been disappointing since being crowned world champion in May but he has looked back to his brilliant best in Llandudno this week.

Something has clearly clicked for the Belgian, whose last three wins have seen him whitewash Joe O'Connor 4-0 and brush aside Graeme Dott and Tom Ford both 4-1.

The manner of those performances bode well for the rest of the tournament and, now within hailing distance of the final, Brecel should be fully focused on the challenge ahead.

In truth, it would be disappointing was Brecel unable to reach Sunday’s title decider with world number 76 O’Donnell and one of Dale or Slessor all that stands in his way.

The 28-year-old would need to underperform massively and it is no surprise to see him as short as 1/4 to win his quarter-final encounter.

It is interesting that O’Donnell has won all three previous meetings between the pair but it is difficult to see that form being franked.

Therefore, those looking to side with Brecel may want to consider backing him to claim the title at 15/8.

Anthony McGill may have Kyren Wilson's measure

McGill is one player that probably doesn’t get the most out of his true ability but the Scotsman is worth taking seriously when involved at the back end of tournaments.

The Smiling Assassin is a former World Championship semi-finalist and a three-time quarter-finalist, which highlights his capabilities, and tournament wins over Mark Williams and Ricky Walden show him to be in excellent shape.

Having also won his last three meetings with Wilson, McGill is slightly favoured for this quarter-final encounter and odds of 10/11 could represent a touch of value.

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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