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Serbian Snooker Blogger Vladimir Jankovic is back with his 'Corner Pocket' feature. This week he previews the popular German Masters, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday...

​​​The first ranking event of 2018 begins on Wednesday with anticipation of the D88 German Masters in Berlin. Since the reincarnation of the competition in 2011, the tournament has been consistently hailed as one of the best on the tour.

This world ranking event is staged at the iconic Tempodrom in the centre of Berlin. Snooker’s popularity in Germany has grown massively year by year, and snooker fans can expect some interesting battles this year also.

Defending champion Anthony Hamilton, who won the first ranking event of his career in Berlin, will face Jimmy Robertson in the First Round. This season Hamilton reached the Semi-Finals of the Champion of Champions where he was beaten by Ronnie O’Sullivan. At the Shanghai Masters, UK Championship and Northern Ireland Open he did not manage to pass the Last 64, though. Can he play his best game again and maybe repeat last year's success? We can only wait and see.

Masters champion Mark Allen will play against Matthew Selt in the First Round. One of the most talented snooker players in the history of Northern Irish snooker will have a huge amount of confidence after his big win in London against Kyren Wilson.  His rival in Berlin qualified for this tournament after a win against Indian player Aditya Mehta. Last year Mark Allen lost his First Round match here against Ryan Day, but after his breakthrough at the Alexandra Palace, we can all expect better performances this year.

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy will face Alan McManus in a potentially very interesting match.  Murphy won the Champion of Champions tournament after defeating O’Sullivan, although in the final of UK Championship, he lost from the same opponent. Murphy didn’t feature last year in Berlin but this time he has the chance to continue with his fine form. Alan McManus, on the other hand, qualified for this event after beating Jackson Page and Dominic Dale. This season his biggest achievement was a Last 16 finish at the China Championship.

Judd Trump will face Ben Woollaston first up. The UK champion from 2011 had some great results last year, and is a firm favourite in this match. If he wins in this clash, he will face either Joe Perry or Yu De Lu.

World Number 1 Mark Selby will play against Xiao Guodong. Selby lost his opening match at the Masters against Mark Williams, so for sure he hopes that at this tournament he can achieve a better result. His opponent got to the Quarter-Finals of the Scottish Open where he lost to eventual winner Neil Robertson. Whoever wins this tie, will play Tom Ford or Liang Wenbo.

 An interesting tournament is in front of us. There should be enjoyment for every snooker fan!

Written by Vladimir Jankovic. Published on 29th January 2018