While the snooker headlines in this part of the world have been dominated this week by the announcement from Ronnie, that he will be returning to defend his world title in April the rest of the snooker world have been busy competing for the World Open in China.
This is the fourth of five ranking events that will be held in China this season and we have perhaps just seen the signs from a few of our stars that they are beginning to find their best form again with The Crucible looming ever larger on the horizon.This is maybe the reason why we have had far fewer shocks this week then we've had in other tournaments of late and we have a real mouth watering line up for tomorrows Quarter Finals
First up we have a clash of two of the games toughest competitors with Neil Robertson once again facing Mark Selby.Both these men have had relatively easy passages to this point having only lost 3 frames between them in their first two matches but maybe the scores have flattered Selby a bit as he hasn't needed to be at his best in beating Haotian and Hawkins.That said Selby has had the best of the recent tussles between these two and may well prevail again in a match that is sure to be close.
Also in the morning session tomorrow we have Judd Trump v Matthew Stevens. Trump who showed small signs in Wales earlier in the month that he may be finally shaking off his mid season slump, has stepped up another gear this week and is now nearing his brilliant best.Here he has already revenged his UK Championship defeat to Mark Joyce dismissing him 5-0 before following up with three centuries today in beating Nigel Bond 5-1.Stevens has reached this stage with a borrowed cue, his having gone missing in transit and recording a fine 5-3 win over Shaun Murphy today ,will know he will need to step up again here if he is to trouble Trump.
The one thing all these tournaments in China have been missing is a good run from home favourite Ding Junhui but this might be the week where that changes.Often in the past he has struggled under the expectations of his adoring fans but this week after coming through 5-4 against Holt he looked far more comfortable in beating Marco Fu 5-2.Standing in the way of him reaching the semi finals will be John Higgins who followed up a 5-3 win over Alan McManus with a superb 5-0 thrashing of Stuart Bingham.Higgins has been in a bit of a slump himself of late following a great start to season but the further he gets into a tournament the harder he is to beat.This one will be another close one but I just think Ding might scrap through.
The fourth quarter final see's the defending champion Mark Allen face Ricky Walden.Allen who was brilliant in winning this title last year has reached this stage not playing his best despite twice coming from 2-0 to record 5-2 victories over Ryan Day and Robert Milkins.Walden who has also been the victim of cue going missing this week has beaten Peter Ebdon 5-2 using Stephen Maguire's cue and he repaid his friends favour by beating Maguire 5-4 today.This is another tough match to call but I just feel Allen might come through.As I've already said he hasn't been at his best yet this week but the point is as long as you keep winning you always have chance to improve in next match
Thats the line up then for what promises to be a cracking day of snooker.