As expected Shaun Murphy (13-5 Joe Perry), Judd Trump (13-8 Marco Fu) Ronnie O'Sullivan (13-5 Matthew Stevens) & Neil Robertson (13-5) all went through today with the minimum of fuss to complete the Last eight line up and what an interesting set of matches we have in store over the next two days.
Anthony McGill v Shaun Murphy
In many ways the story of this championship so far has been the emergence of Anthony McGill and his victory over defending champion Mark Selby in the last round showed just what a talent this young Scot is. Its not just ability on the table that has endeared him to people here,but also the fact that he seems to be really enjoying what he is doing.Add to this a real all round game and we're looking at someone who without question will be challenging for titles in the coming seasons.
The question here is can he continue to ride the crest of the wave and make a challenge for this title.If he is he is going to have to get past a former champion in great form.
It could be argued this season that Shaun Murphy is playing the best snooker he has since he won the title here in 2005. This was really apparent in his Masters victory in January and he has reached this stage only conceding eight frames in his first two matches.I'd certainly expect this one to be a lot closer than that,but i just feel Murphy will have too much for McGill this year and I think he'll got through.
Prediction: Murphy 13-10McGill
Barry Hawkins v Neil Robertson
There is little doubt the most impressive player so far in this championship has been Robertson who has breezed through the first teo rounds here without breaking sweat.Of course he was helped by two opponents who were playing well below their best ,but among the balls he has looked phenomenal.
Hawkins on the other and had had an extraordinary championship form nearly throwing away his first round match to clinching a victory against Allen in the next round having looked second best throughout.Looking at this one you must also consider Hawkins great Crucible record in recent years,but really I just think Robertson is playing to well and will win this comfortably
Prediction: Robertson 13-6
Ding Junhui v Judd Trump
Here we have undoubtedly the tie of the round and if it matches their epic semi final here in 2011 we are in for a real treat.After a season of disappointment Ding has started to look like his old self here this week and there are few easier on the eye when it comes to constructing a break than him.
Trump on the other hand come here on the back of a season where he has seemed to grow as a player and has done nothing here to discourage those who believe this may well be his year.
This one is really too close to call,but the one thing that from a form line that may sway it is the fact that Ding has started his first two matches here quite slowly before finding some form and if that were to happen here you feel Trump may well be gone out of sight.For that reason I just give it to Trump but it may well be very close.
Prediction Trump 13-11
Stuart Bingham v Ronnie O'Sullivan
So we come to Ronnie and after two rounds just how is the "Rocket" playing.Well its hard to know as he has been put under very little pressure.At times he has looked near his best,but perhaps most worrying for his supporters is an irritability that seems set to blow at anything that goes wrong.
Its probably equally difficult to say just how Bingham has played after he came through a real slog in round one before beating a physically wrecked Graeme Dott with ease in round two.
I have to admit though,if Ronnies state of mind here is suspect under pressure I don't expect it to be tested in this one.
Prediction Ronnie O'Sullivan 13-6