Former snooker professional Craig Edwards @EdwardsTips_ previews the first-round match from the 2022 Masters Snooker for BetWithUs
Alexandra Palace in London
January 10th, 19:00
Barry Hawkins 11/10 (2.10) v Shaun Murphy 4/5 (1.80)
Head-to-Head: Hawkins 7-13 Murphy
In the current season form, this match between Barry Hawkins and Shaun Murphy is the least appealing of the first-round encounters at the Masters’ Snooker 2022. Barry Hawkins has played below his best in this year’s campaign even in reaching last month’s UK Championship semi-final. Shaun Murphy’s season has gone from bad to worse culminating in not qualifying for the year-ending World Grand Prix that took the top 32 players from the current year’s ranking list.
It may be the least appealing for fans and viewers but it’s the most attractive one for me to tip Barry Hawkins on.
Barry Hawkins despite being under par in the current campaign has still managed to reach the semi-final of the UK Championship which is a testament to his strong consistent game twinned with solid shot selection. Maybe his loss at the end of last season in the Tour Championship semi-final to Ronnie O’Sullivan in a match when he was on the brink of victory, knocked his self-confidence a little as his break building stats are noticeably lower than his best recently.
A lean looking Shaun Murphy looked back to his brilliant best with a superb campaign at the Crucible Theatre when coming a valiant runner up at the World Championship to Mark Selby. That came on the back of a sponsored diet and he looked like a rejuvenated man after a tough year prior when he lost his close friend and manager, Brandon Parker which is a plausible excuse for his poor form. This year, he’s regressed badly on and off the table culminating in a pompous hissy fit when losing to amateur, Si Jiahui in the UK Championship. His concentration has looked poor on numerous occasions when sailing close to the wind or losing in the early rounds of tournaments to players ranked well below him. Peculiarly, if you took his World Championship performance away, he would be outside the top 32 in the world which is an accurate overall reflection of his poor form.
Even if Barry Hawkins plays below his best it’s not hard to envisage that he will beat Shaun Murphy for a third time in recent seasons at the Masters. Despite the head-to-head favouring Murphy and possibly influencing the bookmakers pricing on this match, I had Hawkins as my favourite. There are numerous compelling reasons why I’m siding with Barry Hawkins, one of which, is Hawkins plays in the Championship League in the preceding days which will bring a level of sharpness to his game that Murphy won’t have.
If the case isn’t persuasive enough for you then another potential unseen factor that may influence the outcome of this match is the Covid situation with the Omicron variant that’s currently sweeping the country and affecting sports. If the Government announces further restrictions and the match gets played behind closed doors it will favour Hawkins further given Murphy believes he plays better when he has a crowd. This would seep into his psyche and he would start making excuses subconsciously in the back of his mind which would likely hinder his performance.
I like our unusually strong Money line bet on Barry Hawkins and that is my priority to turn a profit in this match. I will add No 50 break in frame 1, given both players’ are likely to be edgy as it has been recently between them and it will suit Hawkins to keep the match tight early doors but keep stakes modest. Another bet to consider is the under 1.5 match centuries two way at 5/6 (1.83) given how Hawk’s break building has declined this season. The other would be to take Barry Hawkins at -2.5 frames at 3/1 (4.00) easily available but keep stakes small in both if you follow.
BetWithUs Snooker Picks
Barry Hawkins to beat Shaun Murphy @ 11/10 (2.10) NAPBarry Hawkins v Shaun Murphy – No 50 break frame 1 @ 15/8 (2.88) (modest stake)