After two contrasting days of quarter final action we are now down to the final four men who will battle it out to be crowned 2013 Betfair Masters champion.
Following on from what had been a superb four days of first round action the question was would this continue into the quarter finals.We need not have worried s Neil Robertson and Mark Allen served up a a classic that although we are only in January will surely be on everyones shortlist for match of the year come December.
In a match where there was never more then a frame between the two players it all boiled down to the decider where Robertson played a shot in a million to get in.Coming to the table with the white behind the yellow Robertson played the white off the baulk cushion and potted a red that was over the top corner and finished perfect on the black.He would make the most of this chance and clinched the 6-5 win with a 105.
You have to feel sympathy for Allen who played well enough to win most matches but just came up against a defending champion in determined mood.Robertson will now now continue his defence of his title against the man he beat to lift the trophy last year Shaun Murphy.
Murphy reached the semi by coming through another thriller against John Higgins winning 6-5.This match perhaps didn't reach the heights of the previous match but was no less enthralling for this.Higgins will feel this was one that got away having lead 4-1 and missing good chances to clinch the match at 5-4 and in the decider,but it was Murphy who potted the pressure balls in the end to come through.
The other semi final will see Graeme Dott face Mark Selby after both players record straight forward victories in their respective quarter finals.Perhaps the more impressive of the two was Graeme Dott who beat pre tournament favourite Judd Trump 6-1.
Anyone who watched the championship league action last week or indeed his first round match here against Hawkins will know that Trump has been apperaing to lack his usual sharpness but it was still a shock to see him play as poorly as he did yesterday.Graeme for his part would probably admit he didn't play his best either but in truth he didn't have to against an opponent struggling so badly.
Selby also made the semi final with a 6-1 victory this one over Mark Williams.This was another low quality encounter with at one stage Selby leading 3-0 with a high break of 28.Williams who hasn't looked the same player since losing good leads in last seasons Australian open and Wuxi classic finals just couldn't string anything worthwhile together and Selby took full advantage to go through.
So what about the semi finals?
The first one serves up a repeat of last years final with Robertson facing Murphy and I feel this could be another close one in a week of close matches.The key to deciding this one may be down to who can impose their style on the match.Robertson like all good champions seems to have a way of imposing his tempo on a game and Murphy must avoid getting dragged into that because as he has shown this week.especially against Higgins,when he has the bit between his teeth and is going for his shots he can pot anything.That said I think Robertson still might just edge this one in possibly another decider .scoreline 6-5,
The match between Dott and Selby will be equally difficult to call.Selby much like in the UK Championship finds himself in the semi final without actually playing anywhere near his best,but maybe thats the mark of a true champion.The one thing that is for sure is that Dott will be snapping at the heals of any mistakes that Selby makes.that said i feel with Selby these days the further he gets through a tournament the harder he becomes to beat and I expect him to win this one maybe 6-3.
Another fascinating day we have in store then in what has been a fascinating week.