Tomorrow see's the Welsh Open move into it's quarter final stage and we have rarely seen such a wide and varied selection of players left standing, as we have here after today's last 16 encounters.
The most impressive players so far this week have been defending champion Ding Junhui and Mark Alllen and in many ways it was a pity they has to meet so early in the tournament as the last 16 but thats the way it panned out..This seems to be an unfortunate recurring theme with Allen, who has played very well in a number of tournaments this season only to run into someone playing at the top of their form.Sadly for him that was to be the case again today.Ding got off to a flyer in this one and went 3-0 up before Allen started to fight back.He won the next two to make it 3-2 and was first in in the next before running out position allowing Ding the chance to clinch the match,This he did winning 4-2 and on this form will take some stopping this week.
His opponent in the next round will be Robert Milkins who saw off Sam Baird 4-2.
The most thrilling match of the day was between Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham who served up a high quality clash that was decided on the final black,Bingham winning it 4-3..This one had been nip and tuck the whole way with both players playing well and it was no surprise to see it go to the final frame.In the decider Robertson looked set for victory but played a risky pot on red when safety was perhaps the better option and Bingham produced a stunning clearance to win through.
His reward will be a quarter final against the veteran Ken Doherty who also came through in a nervy decider against Tom Ford.Doherty apparently had a holiday booked with his wife for this weekend but I'm sure she wont mind him having to cancel it if it means lifting this trophy again.
The other big story this week has been the run of Pankaj Advani and he impressed yet again today this time taking the scalp of Graeme Dott by a scoreline of 4-1.He remarkably now beaten three former world champions in this tournament having knocked out Shaun Murphy here the other night and Peter Ebdon in the qualifying round last week.His next match promises to be a fascinating clash of styles as he takes on Judd Trump for a place in the semi finals.
Trump reached this stage with a comfortable 4-1 win over Andrew Higginson.I suggested following yesterdays get out of jail performance against Dale,that we may be looking back on that match in the coming month's as a turning point in his season and today he looked more comfortable around the table then he has in a good while ,as he coasted to victory.He still is not playing at his peak but he can only be encouraged by displays like this.Confidence is only ever a win away.
Welsh interest in the tournament ended this afternoon when home favourite Matthew Stevens went down 4-2 to Stephen MaguireThis one wasn't a classic but it was Maguire who scored the better and came through to set up a quarter final with fellow Scot Alan McManus.
McManus is another man enjoying his best run in tournament in a long time this week but it looked set to end this evening when he trailed Joe Perry 3-0.McManus has never been a player who gives in easily though and he produced a dogged fightback to claim a 4-3 win.The way this week is going you never know, we could have a repeat of the 1993 final with McManus facing Doherty!
Away from the table The WPBSA announced today that following an investigation into alleged match fixing that Stephen Lee does indeed have a case to answer and the case will now be handed over for an independent hearing to Sports Resolution UK.Obviously I'm not going to comment anymore on this other then to say that I hope,for all concerned,that this matter is dealt with as quickly as possible.
Anyway back to what we all want to be concentrating on and that id the action,that gets underway at 1 tomorrow with the first two quarter finals with the other two following on in the evening..Don't forget we also now revert back to the more normal best of 9 frames format.