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World Grand Prix Snooker 2020 Day Three preview and order of play: Form horses aim to get over the line at Cheltenham

Jamie Shaw in World Grand Prix

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Ronnie O’Sullivan makes winning return at the World Grand Prix as Xiao sees off Selby

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Ronnie O’Sullivan survives Liang Wenbo scare to reach World Grand Prix Quarter-Finals

Liang and O’Sullivan go head-to-head in Milton Keynes (Photo by Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images)

A clutch of big names begin their World Grand Prix campaigns in Cheltenham on Wednesday as the First Round concludes and the Last 16 commences.

The first Coral Series event of the season has already seen a number of top-ranked stars fall foul of the short format, including Mark Selby, Ding Junhui, Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy.

Wednesday’s afternoon session features the remaining four First Round ties, before the opening four Second Round ties take place in the evening session.

Barry Hawkins, whose most recent ranking title came in this event three years ago, opens up his latest World Grand Prix campaign with a clash against three-time World Champion Mark Williams.

Despite winning the Paul Hunter Classic, Hawkins has struggled for form so far this season, reaching just two ranking Quarter-Finals, while also losing in the First Round of The Masters.

Likewise, Williams has also been below his best so far this term, losing in or prior to the Second Round in six of his seven ranking event appearances.

The charismatic Welshman is also having to contend with a foot injury sustained in recent days and will look to play through the pain barrier.

Mark Williams in action (Photo by World Snooker)

Another mouth-watering contest sees four-time World Champion John Higgins take on 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham.

Bingham claimed the second part of snooker’s Triple Crown by winning The Masters last month and will look to continue that form against the veteran Scot – whose season is yet to really catch fire despite two Semi-Final runs.

Two of snooker’s hottest young prospects collide in a repeat of their recent Masters show-down as Kyren Wilson faces Jack Lisowski.

Wilson reeled off six consecutive frames from 2-0 down to knock out ‘Jackpot’ at Alexandra Palace and will aim to repeat the dose as he bids to kick-start the second half of an otherwise underwhelming season by his standards.

Lisowski finished runner-up in December’s Scottish Open but failed to qualify for both the European Masters and German Masters and is therefore targeting his first victory of 2020.

An all-Chinese affair sees young sensations Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong lock horns for the first time in ranking competition.

Yan claimed the Riga Masters title at the beginning of the season and was a semi-finalist at the UK Championship, while Zhao reached the Last Eight of the German Masters a week ago.

The evening session sees 2018 World Grand Prix champion Ronnie O’Sullivan take on his close friend Liang Wenbo for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

O’Sullivan got his 2020 campaign off and running with a close-run 4-3 victory over David Gilbert on Monday courtesy of a trademark century break in the final frame.

O’Sullivan is 22nd on the one-year ranking list and in need of a strong run here in order to bolster his hopes of qualifying for both the Players Championship and Tour Championship.

The five-time World Champion has won seven of his eight previous meetings with Liang – who knocked out Mark Allen in his opener and is donating his prize money this week to the Red Cross in the city of Huizhou to help victims of the coronavirus.

Graeme Dott, semi-finalist in last week’s German Masters, aims to continue his fine run of form by overcoming Xiao Guodong.

Xiao’s only ranking Semi-Final appearance to date came in this event 12 months ago, and the Chinese ace made a dream start on Monday by defeating Mark Selby 4-3 in a high-scoring contest.

Indian Open champion Matthew Selt aims to kick on from his victory over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh when he faces maximum man Tom Ford – who came from 3-1 down to defeat Stephen Maguire in Round One.

World Championship and European Masters semi-finalist Gary Wilson continues his quest for a maiden ranking title when he comes up against former UK Champion Matthew Stevens – who saw off Shaun Murphy in a latenight decider on Tuesday.

The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of seven frames.


World Grand Prix 2020 Match Schedule

Wednesday February 5

First Round

John Higgins v Stuart Bingham
Yan Bingtao v Zhao Xintong

Not before 2pm
Kyren Wilson v Jack Lisowski
Mark Williams v Barry Hawkins

Last 16

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Liang Wenbo
Xiao Guodong v Graeme Dott

Not before 8pm
Matthew Selt v Tom Ford
Gary Wilson v Matthew Stevens