Snooker News

Scottish Open Preview

The third leg of the inaugural Home Nations series takes place this week with the Scottish Open in Glasgow.

john-higgins-coc-ws

Can Higgins win on home soil? Photo credit: World Snooker

It marks the first time since 2010 that a ranking event will be staged in Scotland, and the tournament follows the previously contested English and Northern Ireland Opens.

Liang Wenbo and Mark King were the two surprise champions of the first two Home Nations tournaments, each emerging with a maiden ranking event title and £70,000 in Manchester and Belfast respectively.

Notable in his absence from the Emirates Arena in Glasgow will be the world number one Mark Selby, who recently added a UK crown to the World and International Championship trophies he already captured in 2016.

It means the 33 year-old will have to wait a little bit longer to become the first player to break the £1 million mark in the official world rankings – which is based on a rolling system across two years.

Ding Junhui is another marquee name who decided to opt out of the last event before Christmas and New Year but there are plenty of other star names on show.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will naturally begin as the favourite despite losing all three of the finals he has played in this campaign.

When the 41 year-old expressed his intention to play in more tournaments this season few would have expected him to have entered as many as he has done – even though the majority have been contested in the UK.

O’Sullivan’s dedication can’t be questioned then but he faces a tricky opening test in Matthew Selt as he bids for a first piece of silverware since the Welsh Open in February.

Elsewhere, the likes of world no.2 Stuart Bingham, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson are in the draw.

All three have suffered a minor dip in form having previously enjoyed successful spells earlier this term.

Of course, a lot of attention will obviously surround the band of home contenders, which is led by four-time world champion John Higgins.

Higgins, who earned more than £300,000 in a lucrative November in which he triumphed in a pair of invitationals, was very unfortunate to have drawn fellow Scot and close pal Alan McManus in the last 128.

Fans will be looking to the winner of that tie to progress far in the event, while Indian Open champion Anthony McGill, Stephen Maguire and former world champion Graeme Dott will be among the other home hopefuls who will attempt to maintain local interest.

Of the Irish, Ken Doherty continues his fight against what appears to now be an inevitable drop outside the top 64 in the rankings.

Doherty, who was runner-up in the old Scottish Open in 2001, has been on a slippery slope for several months and has a difficult first encounter with Matthew Stevens.

Fellow Dubliner Fergal O’Brien meets amateur Brandon Sargeant while rookie Josh Boileau is up against China’s Yu Delu.

Northern Irish duo Mark Allen and Joe Swail, who like Doherty is hovering above the top 64 line, face Christopher Keogan and Lee Walker respectively.

Like the prior events in the Home Nations series, rounds up until the quarter-finals will be played over the best of seven frames, before gradual increases until a best of 17-frame final next Sunday.

Live coverage will be on Eurosport throughout while Freeview/Saorview customers will be able to avail of afternoon coverage on Quest TV.

Click here to view the draw.  

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