Whitlock can oust the Machine
The opening night of The Masters lived up to all expectations as the top 16 players in the world served up eight cracking contests, three of which went all the way to a deciding leg and we should expect some more tight matches this evening in the quarter-finals.
The first clash on Saturday night sees James Wade take on Simon Whitlock who were pushed hard by Kevin Painter and Mervyn King respectively in their opening matches.
These two have met on a regular basis over the last two or three years and it is the Wizard who has had the better of their encounters although it is the Machine who has claimed victory in their three most recent meetings.
There is nothing between the two in the odds with Wade at a best price of 10/11 with Sky Bet and Whitlock at 19/20 with Boyle Sports. In recent weeks the Machine has been producing his trademark displays which see him not really perform at his best and scrape through matches right at the end. The impression that has been made is that if someone can put in a really strong performance against him then they will be able to see him off. Whitlock put in an average of 96 against King on Friday and if he can perform at that level then he has every chance of winning and should be backed.
Next on is the home favourite Robert Thornton who takes on Adrian Lewis. The former two-time world champion looked sensational on Friday defeating Kim Huybrechts in a high quality affair whilst the Thorn did the opposite, stumbling through a poor contest with Andy Hamilton.
As such Lewis is the hot favourite at 8/15 with Sporting Bet whilst Thornton is out at 7/4 with Bet365. However, the Scot has won two of the last three battles between the pair and with Lewis struggling with flu he may not be able to keep up his level of performance for a second night. It would be a big upset but Thornton looks good value at 7/4.
The tournament favourite remains Phil Taylor and he should have no problems seeing off Wes Newton in the last eight. The two have met 28 times and the Warrior has won just once and that came away from the big stage in the Championship League. The Power will win this one but there is no value in backing him, even on the handicap. The best bet seems to be the 180 market with neither prolific on the maximums and only three being hit between them on Friday. Under 5.5 180s is 11/10 with Betfred and that looks a good price.
The final match of the night is an all-Dutch affair between Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld a clash the former is clear favourite for at 2/5 with Sporting Bet. Barney was very good against Dave Chisnall in round one but MVG seems to have his number nowadays and the younger man should win again. There is not a lot of value in this one but the best bet is Mighty Mike with a -2.5 handicap at 10/11 with Bet365.
Simon Whitlock to win @ 19/20 with Boyle Sports
Robert Thornton to win @ 7/4 with Bet365
Phil Taylor v Wes Newton under 5.5 180s @ 11/10 with Betfred
Michael van Gerwen (-2.5) @ 10/11 with Bet365