Today saw the conclusion of round two and now only eight men remain with a hope of becoming the 2013 Betfair World Championship.
Ronnie O'Sullivan again showed that he is the man to beat with a 13-8 victory over Ali Carter.In a match where his frailties on long shots briefly threatened to derail his championship it was once again his brilliance once in the balls that saw him through.
In the first session he had at one stage lead 5-1 but Carter rallied to 5-3.Ronnie then started the second session with an 86 to go 6-3 but Carter knocked in breaks of 73 & 87 to make it 6-5 before a 105 from Ronnie restored his two frames lead at 7-5.
Despite this break Ronnie was still looking a little tired and Carter started to put him under a little pressure by winning the next two to make it 7-7.This was now you felt the crucial part of this match and Ronnie answered any questions we may have had about how much he want this winning the last two of session to lead 9-7 overnight.
Th first frame tonight was a tight affair that Ronnie eventually won to go 10-7.Carter knocked in a super long red in the next to set up a gutsy 86 to just stay in it at 10-8,but here Ronnie just put on the afetrburners to win the next three with quickfire breaks of 88,106 and 88 and seal the 13-8.
So what did we learn from this match.Well just as in his first game here,his break building once among the balls is as good as ever but his long game just hasn't fully clicked yet.That said if he is to win this title from here he will be playing every day and You have to feel he'll only get stronger as the week goes on.
His opponent in the quarter finals will be Stuart Bingham after he saw off the determined challenge of Mark Davis to win 13-10.This one had looked on paper like it would be nip and tuck the whole way and so it was to prove as they traded frame for frame to in the early stages to go 4-4 after the first session.
This pattern continued into the second session as the score became 5-5 before Bingham finally won two in a row to go 7-5.At this stage he would have been looking to kick on but maybe through trying too hard the opposite began to happen as Davis once again fought back to level at 7-7.The momentum seemed to be with Davis now and he took the lead for the first time in the match at 8-7.This was to be short lived though as Bingham leveled again at 8-8.
Starting off this afternoon it was again Bingham who got off to the better start going 10-8 but once again Davis responded to level at 10-10.It looked as though this one could go all the way but it was Binmgham who found his form aftewer the interval to go 11-10 with his second century of the match and he won the next two to reach his first Crucible quarter final.
With the elimination of Robertson,Selby and Allen form the bottom half of the draw a lot of attention has gone onto Ding Junhui with many thinking that this is possibly his best chance to win the title This was maybe on his mind as he looked badly out of sorts in going 6-2 behind following his first session with Mark King.
The beauty of the longer frame matches are that they allow players recover from a bad start and the consensus seemed to be that if Ding could win the second session he would still go through.As it happened he was to .do better then that winning the first five to take a 7-5 lead and although King briefly stopped the tide to level at 7-7 Ding won the last two to take a 9-7 overnight lead.
Starting this afternoon Ding looked in good form again taking the opening frame to go 10-7 but a missed black off the spot in the next allowing King to win it and close to 10-8.To his credit King also won the next to get to 10-9.It seemed now that we may may have a match on our hands,but Ding knocked in a cool century to go 11-9.and closed the match out after the interval to win 13-9.
The last man into the Quarter finals was Ricky Walden who held off a brave fightback from Robert Milkins to progress by a scoreline of 13-11.
This at one stage had looked like it might finish with a session to spare as Walden extended his 5-3 lead from the first session to 9-3.Milkins first objective was to avoid this indignity.He managed to do this by winning the next and also securing the last two of the session to keep himself just about still in the match trailing 10-6 going into the final session.
In the past Walden has often been criticised for a failure to press home his advantage in matches and it looked as though those old failings were coming back o haunt him here as Milkins won the first two of the night to make it 10-8.He would have been relieved then to win the next with a 61.Milkins wasn't going to lie down though and won the next two to make it 11-10.The pressure was now on but Walden wasn't to be denied as he made it 12-10 with a run of 79.Milkins kept his hopes alive winning the next but Walden secured victory with an 86 to finish it 13-11 . He will now play debutant Michael White in the quarter finals,
So eight men left and one week from tonight we will have our 2013 World Champion.I thinks its fair to say we are now at the business end of things.