For the first time ever, the Coral World Grand Prix comes to Cheltenham Racecourse, with some star studded names playing in the opening night of the event. Sam Macey previews all the action ahead of the opening night.
The action is scheduled to begin at 7pm this evening and it starts with the defending champion Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan, given a tricky opening game against Marco Fu. O’Sullivan, the number 2 seed boats an impressive record again Hong Kong’s Marco Fu. Fu hasn’t beaten O’Sullivan in almost a decade with his last win coming in the Welsh Open in 2009. It hasn’t been the best of preparations for Fu either, as he had a disappointing weekend in Berlin as he was knocked out in the first round by Matthew Selt. Having never played in Cheltenham I’m sure O’Sullivan will want to have a deep run in the tournament and it could be a very tough game for Fu, if ‘The Rocket’ is on his A game.
The other game which begins at 7pm is Barry Hawkins against Ryan Day. On paper there is very little between the two men, with Hawkins being the 15th seed and Day being the 18th seed. Both men exited the German Masters in the second round with Hawkins losing to Robert Milkins, and Day losing to Xiao Godong. Day has won the last two meeting between the pair, and this is a very tough game to call.
The 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham takes on Zhao Xintong, after Hawkins against Day. Bingham will be looking to build on a good weekend in Berlin where he reached the last 16, before he was beaten by Neil Robertson. Bingham has a 100% record against Xintong, winning all three of the previous meetings. Should Bingham play his best he should get the job done with relative ease.
Finally World Number One Mark Allen takes on Gary Wilson. On paper this should be a routine win for Allen, however every game between the two men has been won by one set. Wilson comes into the event off the back of a second round loss on the weekend and could cause Allen problems with his steady game.
Park Life sport will have all the action from the World Grand Prix all week.