Saturday is semi-final day at the English Open with previous winners Neil Robertson and Mark Selby meeting in the top half of the draw, before the in-form Mark Allen takes on the mercurial Luca Brecel in the evening.
The shorter, more dynamic, matches at the Brentwood Centre have helped produce a magnificent week of snooker and there is sure to be more potting prowess in Saturday’s two best-of-11 contests.
English Open Semi-Finals Tips
- Neil Robertson vs Mark Selby – Correct Score Robertson 6-3 @ 5/1
- Mark Allen vs Luca Brecel – Total Frames – Under 9 @ 19/10
Neil Robertson vs Mark Selby – Correct Score Robertson 6-3 @ 5/1
Familiar foes meet in the first semi-final as defending champion Robertson faces Selby at 13:00.
The pair have met 16 times over the last five years, with the Australian leading their rivalry in that time 13-3, including winning their last seven meetings.
Robertson’s most recent victory came earlier this month when he came through 5-2 in the last eight of the Scottish Open and he has won the pair’s last five matches by three or more frames.
This is his third semi-final of the season and, after surviving an early scare against Lei Peifan, has looked strong so far in his defence.
The 40-year-old whitewashed Elliot Slessor before beating Ryan Day 4-2 and then Mark Williams 5-3, the latter coming up short despite becoming the oldest player to make a competitive 147.
Selby has also looked pretty serene, dropping just seven frames on his way to the semi-finals but for whatever reason struggles to find his best snooker against the Thunder from Down Under.
The 2019 champion has been a three-time quarter-finalist so far in 2022-23 but met his match in Robertson in both the Scottish Open and Northern Ireland Open.
Can he overcome the frustration of not just those recent defeats, but his overall poor record against the 2010 world champion?
Recent form suggests not and another three-frame victory could be on the cards for Robertson.
Mark Allen vs Luca Brecel – Total Frames – Under 9 @ 19/10
The evening match sees Belgium’s Brecel take on Northern Ireland’s Allen at 19:00, the latter having recently won both his home title in Belfast, before backing it up by winning the recent UK Championship.
Allen has lost an incredible five stones over the summer and has admitted that his physical transformation has played a huge role in his recent form.
The County Antrim star has always had the talent but the greater focus he seems to have found away from the baize has been transferred to the table.
Allen’s most impressive win this week at the Brentwood Centre is his 4-3 second-round success against Ding Junhui and he has since shown little mercy in dispatching John Astley and Ashley Hugill by an aggregate score of 9-1.
However, Brecel produced arguably the display of the tournament in smashing Judd Trump 5-0 in the quarter-finals and is another with a title to his name so far in 2022-23, having won the Championship League.
The Belgian also won the pair’s most recent meeting in November 2021. Ironically, that came in this tournament but Allen leads their career head-to-head 2-1 after a brace of wins at The Masters.
He is also arguably the form player in the world and it is tough to look past him winning this match and possibly even the tournament overall.
Brecel’s inconsistency also means he could struggle to back up his brilliant bashing of Trump and there may turn out to be less than nine frames in this best-of-11 match-up.