Rocket Targets Eighth Masters Title

The Masters begins at Alexandra Palace on Sunday as the world’s top 16 players meet in the non-ranking Triple Crown event.

Ronnie O’Sullivan heads into the tournament in devastating form despite his limited schedule so far this season.  The Rocket has only entered five tournaments and has three wins, including the season’s first major the UK Championship.

Can anyone stop the Rocket firing?

O’Sullivan is the 3.25 favourite to claim the Paul Hunter Trophy and he looks the man to beat going into the tournament.

The 43-year-old lost in the quarter-finals last year as he went down 6-1 to eventual champion Mark Allen but his recent record remains strong, with three of his seven Masters titles coming in the last five years.

O’Sullivan has been handed what looks to be a favourable draw with Stuart Bingham to come in his opener.  Bingham did reach the last four at the UK Championship but The Masters tends to be an event he struggles in, having lost in the first round in six of his seven appearances in the event, and this is a match you would expect O’Sullivan to win.

John Higgins is a potential quarter-final opponent but he has been unable to find any real consistency this season and there appear to be few threats on O’Sullivan’s side of the draw. 

Holder Allen or Ding Junhui, the 2011 champion, are the likely candidates to face O’Sullivan in the last four and both will provide real tests.  Allen is 12.00 to successfully defend the trophy, while Ding is a 15.00 chance – although incredibly he has won just one match at the Masters since taking the title eight years ago.

Resurgent Robertson looks dangerous

Neil Robertson missed the 2018 edition of the tournament after a slide down the rankings but is now back in the top 10 and looks a real contender in the other half of the draw.

The Thunder from Down Under faces a tough opener against world champion Mark Williams although he should be able to come though that clash at 2.00. Williams is a two-time champion but has only progressed beyond the quarter-finals once since winning his most recent title 16 years ago.

Robertson can’t meet Mark Selby, Judd Trump or last year’s runner-up Kyren Wilson until the semi-finals and given his record in the event is a genuine title contender.  The Australian won the tournament in 2012 and has reached two finals and three quarter-finals since.

The Australian is 15.00 to win the tournament outright and there are a few other appealing options if you do fancy him to go far.  The world number 10 is 7.50 to reach the final, 3.25 to win a fourth quarter that also includes Barry Hawkins and Shaun Murphy and a Robertson v O’Sullivan final is 13.00.

The 7.25 on rest of the world as winning nationality could be another way to go, as that also covers victories for Ding and Belgium’s Luca Brecel.