2020 Welsh Open
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Preview: 2020 Welsh Open

There will be a fourth ranking event in as many weeks with the 2020 Welsh Open set to commence on Monday in Cardiff.

The last Home Nations tournament of the campaign takes place at the Motorpoint Arena once again, with Neil Robertson returning as the reigning champion.

Robertson is the man in form at present, having amazingly already reached the final of all three ranking tournaments this calendar year so far.

The Australian lifted the European Masters trophy at the end of January, missed out on successive triumphs to Judd Trump in Germany last week, and overcame Graeme Dott to claim the World Grand Prix on Sunday.

Twelve months ago, Robertson’s victory over Stuart Bingham meant that he became only the second player to etch his name onto a Home Nations trophy twice since the series’ inception in 2016.

But fellow former world number one Mark Selby has bettered that this term by becoming the first cueist to win a brace in a single season.

The three-time world champion triumphed for the first time on home soil for more than two years when he landed the English Open in October, before adding the Scottish Open crown two months later as well.

Selby’s bid for a hat-trick begins with a contest against David Grace, while Robertson starts his defence against Jamie Clarke.

The pre-tournament favourite, though, is Judd Trump – this campaign’s other Home Nations champion after the world number one’s success in the Northern Ireland Open.

Trump gets going on the opening day in an intriguing first round clash with renowned giant-killer James Cahill.

As the third longest running ranking event on the calendar – the first edition was way back in 1992 – it garners respect from the players and that is reflected in a full entry list.

That means that four-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan will be in action at the 2020 Welsh Open too.

Aside from a run to the final in Belfast, O’Sullivan hasn’t really threatened in any ranking event this season and his wait for a record-breaking 37th success at that level goes on.

The “Rocket” faces Zhang Jiankang in the last 128 and as always it’ll be interesting to see whether he can discover his top gear throughout the week.

All the other heavy hitters will additionally be in the mix, including record five-time champion John Higgins and home favourite Mark Williams.

The latter’s triumph in 1999 represents the last time that a Welshman has won this tournament and, in fact, the home players have generally struggled in the years since overall.

Elsewhere, Masters champion Stuart Bingham entertains Martin Gould in arguably the tie of the first round.

Bingham won the Welsh Open in 2017 and other former champions Ding Junhui, Stephen Maguire, Ali Carter, and Ken Doherty are also in the draw.

As usual with these events in which the first few rounds are played over the best of seven frames, it’s hard to predict a likely outcome.

The situation will become clearer after Thursday’s action, when the quarter-finalists are determined and the format subsequently increases after each round.

Live coverage is on Eurosport and Quest TV.

Click here to view the 2020 Welsh Open draw (Times: CET)

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