Reigning world champion Judd Trump overcame a scare against Tom Ford in the opening round of his Betfred World Snooker Championship title defence but, if last year is anything to go by, he may only become more formidable.

Trump recovered from 6-3 down to get the better of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in a final-frame decider at the first hurdle last year and his credentials were once again tested against Ford, who he beat 10-8 despite trailing 6-4 at one point.

The first round can be a tricky obstacle for the seeds to overcome against a player who has proven his well-being in qualifying and their ability to get the job done and it can be risky to judge them solely on that performance.

Now Trump has crossed that bridge, a semi-final place looks well within reach. It appears Yan Bingtao could be his potential last-16 opponent, while Kyren Wilson or Stephen Maguire are likely to be lying in wait in the quarter-finals.

John Higgins, runner-up in three of the last four years, or Mark Allen would be fancied to make the semi-finals from the other quarter in Trump’s half of the draw but it is the bottom-half that looks far harder to solve.

Trump is 5/2 favourite to retain his world title but the next three in the betting – Ronnie O’Sullivan (9/2), Neil Robertson (6/1) and Mark Selby (11/1) – are all housed in a compact bottom half.

Throw in former world champions Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham, Mark Williams and past finalists Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins, and it has a considerably deeper look to it than the half Trump is housed in.

If ‘The Rocket’ can overcome Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in his Crucible curtain-raiser, he will lock horns with Chinese sensation Ding Junhui in the last-16. The reward for that would be a quarter-final clash with the winner of Bingham and 2018 champion Williams.

However, it is the fourth and final quarter that should have snooker fans salivating.

Only one of Selby, Murphy, Robertson or Hawkins can make the last four, with Selby and Murphy on course to do battle in the second round. The winner of that showdown may have to go toe-to-toe with rejuvenated Aussie ace Robertson, who faces a tough opener against Liang Wenbo.

No first-time world champion has successfully defended their title since the event moved to the Crucible in 1977 but if anyone can overcome that curse it may be Trump, who is armed with the draw to tee-up another final.

Whenever you bet on Snooker, Betfred.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •