A dramatic two days at the Barbican,which have seen the exit of the defending champion,the crowning of a new world number one,a possible changing of the guard in Scottish snooker & no shortage of exciting finishes,have finally left us with eight men still in the running for this famous title.
The obvious place to start is with the dramatic defeat of our champion Neil Robertson at the hands of Graeme Dott. Following the early defeat of Mark Selby & the exit of Ding the previous evening a win in this one would have meant a return to the top of the world rankings for Robertson,but any thoughts that this was going to be straight forward for the Aussie were quickly put to bed as Dott flew out of the traps to take a 2-0 lead without Neil potting a ball.
He did manage to at least score in the next but it still went to Dott along with the next two to give the Scot an unbelievable 5-0 lead.We have already seen this week though how much having even a slightly longer format can change the narrative of a match and we saw it here again as Robertson started to fight back.Breaks of 72,100,59,106 & 79 amazingly saw him level things up at 5-5 taking us into a decider.Dott must have been wondering at this stage how it had come to this so it is to his credit that after Robertson had been a bit unlucky in not getting ideal position on a colour ,that Graeme held himself together enough to get over the line to win 6-5.
Next up for Dott is a clash with Stuart Bingham who had an unexpectedly easy afternoon against the recent International Championship winner Ricky Walden,with the Chesterman never getting out of the blocks allowing Stuart clinch a 6-0 win
In the battle of the Scots it was Anthony McGill who came through against his childhood hero John Higgins. Coming into this tournament the season had been one long struggle for Higgins,but here he had started to show some form and was quite impressive in his victory over Matthew Stevens in the previous round.Sadly for him that was proving to be beyond him as McGill opened a 4-1 lead.
Higgins though as we know has deep reserves of determination and fought his way back,firstly to 4-3 and then to 5-5.A scrappy decider where both had their chances was eventually decided on the last red when Higgins overcut an attempted pot to the yellow pocket and McGill knocked it in to clear for a famous victory.
McGills reward,if you can cal it that,is a last 8 clash with Ronnie O'Sullivan who lifted the roof off the Barbican with a magnificent 147 in the final frame of his 6-0 demolition of Matthew Selt.It has to be said that as has been the case in his previous matches Ronnie started slowly in this and a 4-0 interval lead probably flattered him,but boy did he turn it on when play resumed.
A maximum attempt in frame five ended with a mixed black on 89,but there was to be no mistake in the next as to the delight of both the crowd and a fist pumping Ronnie he cleared the 15 red 15 blacks and the colours to record his 13th professional 147. To think this day last week he was nearly withdrawing because of his ankle injury,I think we can safely say now he is warming to the task.
In the other half of the draw another man who will be starting to fancy his chances of collecting a second UK title is Judd Trump.The Australian Open winner continued his progress here today with a 6-3 win over Rod Lawler.
The one thing anyone drawn against Rod knows is that they are going to be in for a long battle and perhaps it says a lot for Trumps growing maturity that he managed to keep his discipline when Rod got within one at 4-3 and closed out the match when the opportunities came.
He will now face Mark Davis,who brought the run of young James Cahill to an end with a solid 6-2 win.There was always a danger here for Cahill,after his heroics against Ding the night before,that this may be a case of "after the Lord Mayors show"and so it proved.but the 18 yr old has had a week to remember and no doubt we will be seeing plenty more of him on the games biggest stages.
The most recent tournament winner at the start of the championship was Shaun Murphy after his PTC win in Germany.and he will be wondering tonight just how he's not still here with a chance of back to back titles after an extraordinary match with Marco Fu this afternoon.that finished with a dramatic deciding frame
In a match where Murphy was by far the heavier scorer,he looked set for victory when he took the eighth frame to lead 5-3. Fu though got the better of a marathon 58 minute ninth frame to make it 5-4 and then produced his highest break of the match a 67 to level it up at 5-5.
Into that decider then where Murphy was first in with 54,Fu countered before unluckily finding himself snookered on the final red by the black, A safety battle followed which was resolved when Fu double kissed the final red. Murphy just needed to clear to seal the win,but there was to be one final twist as he snookered himself on the yellow from the black & although he hit it,he left Fu on and he cleared to win the match on the black.
His opponent in the quarter final will be Stephen Maguire who brought the run of Irelands David Morris to an end with a solid 6-3 win.Maguire is another who has been struggling of late.but has shown some improvement and took the early lead here going ahead 3-1.This was the biggest match of Morris's career to date and he battled back to level at 3-3. Maguire though wasn't for letting this slip and he won the next three to close out the match,
So there we have it.What a couple of days we've had Lets hope for more of same over the weekend though I'm not sure our hearts will stand it.
Heres the Quarter Final line up
1pm Graeme Dott v Stuart Bingham
1pm Anthony McGill v Ronnie o'Sullivan
7pm Judd Trump v Mark Davis
7pn Stephen Maguire v Marco Fu