UK Open opening night: Wade has his work cut out
114 men will compete on the opening night of the 2013 Speedy Services UK Open as the tournament races through a preliminary and then the first two rounds, ready for the top 32 on the UK Open Order of Merit to join in on Friday.
That is not to say that there are not big names involved on the first evening as Phil Taylor, James Wade, Dean Winstanley and Justin Pipe amongst others are all in action. In a race to four legs in every contest on the Thursday night there is every possibility of plenty of upsets as well, as there always are on this frantic opening night of the tournament.
As he has done in the past, two-time UK Open champ James Wade has given himself plenty to do as he is coming on at the earliest stage possible and faces a tough task in the preliminary stage against the BDO’s Robbie Green. The man known as Kong is a former World Masters finalist and a quarter-finalist in the most recent Lakeside World Championships so can give anyone a game in a best of seven match. He is 10/3 with Bet Victor to beat Wade and it is far from out of the question over such a short format.
Phil Taylor should not have it as tough against Kevin Dowling as the Power’s odds of 1/33 suggest. Dowling did qualify pretty comfortably for Bolton but he has precious little experience on stage and the Power should swat him aside.
Dean Winstanley had a sensational first year in the PDC in 2012 but has started slowly this time around and will need to calm the nerves against the little known Dave Weston. Over the Top should be fine but will need to start well. Justin Pipe must play Welshman Gareth Pass who has shown promise this year but again will struggle against The Force.
Scouting around for possible upsets there are one or two that could prove profitable at the start of the tournament. The first is Nick Fulwell who takes on Wayne Jones in the preliminary round and will fancy his chances of springing a surprise over the Wanderer. Fulwell reached a Pro Tour final last year which takes some doing and has been to the UK Open numerous times before so should be able to handle the occasion. Fulwell is 7/4 with Sky Bet to win and could prove great value.
The next is Mark Lawrence in the first round against the unpredictable Austrian Mensur Suljovic. Lawrence is a former quarter-finalist in Bolton and has been to the World Championships before so is certainly no mug. The Austrian can be brilliant but can also be pretty ropey so there is no reason that Lawrence could not prosper at a tempting price of 5/2 with Bet365.
Finally there is a pretty tasty looking match in the first round between Steve Brown and Adrian Gray. Both have been well past this stage in the past but neither have enjoyed any sort of television success in the last few years. Gray finished a couple of hundred quid above Brown in the UK Open Order of Merit and in what is pretty much a pick ‘em match-up, he looks good value at 11/8 with Coral.
In such an unpredictable atmosphere there could be many more upsets and there will be some fairly ambitious accumulators being built over the first night at the Reebok Stadium.
• Taylor proves his superiority at UK Open
• Hamilton could just cut the Power
• Barney and Taylor set for UK Open final
• Maximum markets provide quarter-final value
• Klaasen the notable fifth round value
• Newton and Part great value in fourth round
• Chisnall and Painter with main stage potential
• Burnett and Hankey to build on momentum
• More shocks on the cards in UK Open third round
• Van Gerwen looks unstoppable ahead of UK Open