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Welsh Open preview: Trump well-placed to go one better

The fourth and final Home Nations Series event of the campaign takes us to Llandudno for the Welsh Open, where Joe Perry is the defending champion after recording a 9-5 win over Judd Trump in last year's final.

The Welsh Open has been a tournament for a surprise in recent seasons after Perry's title triumph came on the back of Jordan Brown's shock success over Ronnie O'Sullivan in 2021. 

Mark Allen (Northern Ireland), Gary Wilson (Scotland) and Mark Selby (England) have claimed the opening three Home Nations Series events and O'Sullivan is 5/1 favourite to add his name to that list. 

Last season's runner-up Trump is 11/2 to go one better while Neil Robertson, who was champion at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff in 2019, is available at 15/2

Selby is 9/1 to build on his English Open triumph with Mark Allen, this season's form man with three rankings titles, a 10/1 shot. 

Home hero Mark Williams is a 14/1 along with Kyren Wilson, who is a winner this season having lifted the European Masters in August. 

Juddernaut's title credentials are strong

WhatWelsh Open
WhereVenue Cymru, Llandudno
WhenMonday 13th February - Sunday 19th February
How to watchEurosport & BBC red button
Odds Ronnie O'Sullivan 5/1, Judd Trump 11/2, Neil Robertson 15/2, Mark Selby 9/1

Trump was no match for Perry in last year's final but there is every reason to think he can be the one celebrating this time around. 

Having made a slow start to the season, the Bristolonian has dropped enough hints that he is starting to peak and there's a lot to like about his title-winning chances in Llandudno. 

Trump kick-started 2023 by winning his second Masters title in January and did so without playing anywhere near his best. 

The world number five needed deciding frames to see off his opening two opponents Ryan Day and Barry Hawkins before he brushed aside Stuart Bingham 6-1 in the semi-final and overcame Williams 10-8 in the trophy decider. 

Trump built on that by making the World Grand Prix final, where he was edged out 10-9 in a classic by Allen, but it was another clue that the 33-year-old is close to finding his A-game. 

When Trump does hit top form that could spell trouble for everyone else and the Welsh Open could be the tournament in which everything begins to click. 

Trump faces David Grace in a heldover qualifier before making the main draw but, providing he does, then he could land in a nice section of the draw. 

Louis Heathcote would be his first-round opponent with Daniel Wells or Matthew Selt lurking in round two. 

Trump should have no trouble coming past those tests and although Shaun Murphy, Jack Lisowski and Neil Robertson - providing they all win their qualifiers - could be housed in his quarter of the draw, the 2019 world champion should have the answers on current form. 

The Juddernaut is 11/2 to claim the title at Venue Cymru and that represents value.

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Welsh wonder could be spurred on by home support 

It has been a while between drinks for Williams, whose last ranking title triumph came at the British Open two years ago. 

However, that should be of no concern as the Welsh Potting Machine has regularly been knocking on the door and appears to be holding his form well. 

Williams made the semi-final of last year's World Championship, where he lost 17-16 to Trump, and also finished runner-up to Trump at this season's Masters. 

The 47-year-old had defeated Dave Gilbert, O'Sullivan and Lisowski on his way to the final at Alexandra Palace and that effort is sandwiched between quarter-final runs at the English Open and the World Grand Prix. 

Despite his ageing years, the seventh seed looks as hungry as ever and playing in front of his home crowd ought to spur him on. 

Like all of the top 16, Williams has to first come through a qualifier against compatriot Michael White, but that is expected and that could see him rewarded with a generous draw. 

It's likely that he would drop in the top quarter alongside defending champion Perry, with Jak Jones in line to be his opening opponent. 

From 11 tournament appearances this season Williams has made at least the quarter-final on six occasions and he must make plenty of appeal at 14/1 in front of a passionate home crowd.

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