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Rupert Wyman 16th Apr 2009 - 14:26

Selby could be on the Mark for his first World Championship

The World Snooker Championship begins on Saturday 18 April at the famous Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. World number one Ronnie O'Sullivan will look to defend his title and win his fourth World Championship.

World Championship outright

'The Rocket' is unsurprisingly the favourite at short odds of 2/1. There is no doubting Ronnie's ability but his temperament isn't always up to scratch. The troubled star has also not been in the best of form this season either. While he won the season-opening Northern Ireland Trophy and followed this up with another Premier League title and his fourth Masters crown, in the last two ranking events he has not performed.

In the Welsh Open in February Ronnie lost in the second round to Marco Fu and then in the China Open a couple of weeks ago John Higgins knocked him out in the quarter-finals. For this reason and his mental instability one cannot back the world's best player at such a short price.

John Higgins, O'Sullivan's conqueror in Beijing, has been touted by the world number one as the only other player that can win at The Crucible if he can find his top form.

O'Sullivan said "If we find our form, then it will be between me and John. If we don't find our game, then any one of 10 or 12 players can win it."

The Scot is ranked fifth in the world and is an 11/1 shot to win his third World Championship. However, there is no certainty that Higgins will find his top form, but he should at least reach the quarter-finals where he could potentially meet world number four Mark Selby.

A quarter-final match-up between Higgins and Selby would be a repeat of the 2007 world final when Higgins triumphed over 'The Jester from Leicester' by 18-13.

Selby has the game to go one step further this year than he did two years ago and although not at a big price in the betting at 15/2 second favourite he would be the tip for Crucible success.

At the same odds as Selby is Scot Stephen Maguire. The world number two though could come unstuck against either of Ali Carter and Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals.

Carter reached his first major final in last year's World Championship where quite simply Ronnie O'Sullivan annihilated him 18-8 in a one-sided final. Since then 'The Captain' has won his first ranking tournament, the 2009 Welsh Open. At odds of 10/1 a semi-final place beckons but only if he can overcome the talented Aussie Neil Robertson in the second round and then Maguire.

Neil Robertson won the inaugural Bahrain Championship back in November. In which he beat his potential quarter-final opponent Maguire at that very stage. 'The Melbourne Machine' is priced at 25/1 to win his first Crucible crown and he could make that look value.

Peter Ebdon won the recent China Open and at odds of 33/1 the 2002 World Champion looks a big price to win his second world title.

World Championship quarter betting

Ebdon is in the top quarter of the draw with Ronnie O'Sullivan and he has warned O'Sullivan that the World Championship is not a two-horse race. The world number one is 8/13 to win his quarter of the draw but with Ebdon, Mark Allen and Ryan Day all in the mix it would be hard to back Ronnie at that price. The preference would be for Ebdon at 7/1.

In the second quarter, the tip for outright success, Mark Selby is favourite at 7/4. John Higgins is at 9/4 and Jamie Cope looks rather attractive at 9/1. The world number 19 faces last year's semi-finalist Joe Perry in the first round but should have enough to defeat the 12th seed.

The third quarter has the match of the first round. An all-China clash between Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo. Wenbo surprised many by reaching the quarter-finals on his Crucible debut last year. He is 12/1 to win his quarter of the draw with his more illustrious compatriot second favourite at 3/1. World number three and 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy tops this quarter at 11/5.

The fourth and final quarter is probably the most competitive with Stephen Maguire (5/4 favourite), Ali Carter (15/8) and Neil Robertson (4/1). At the prices Robertson would be the pick.

William Hill are offering their widest range of betting ever for this year's World Championship and the betting doesn't stop when the players break as our betlive service will offer a number of in-play betting opportunities on every televised match.

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