The best place to start is with not just the best match of this tournament so far,but maybe the best match we've seen in many a year here.
Barry Hawkins started out today with a 5-3 lead over Neil Robertson,but noone could have predicted the classic we were going to have.Hawkins had reached that lead having won the last four of the session yesterday and he continued that run to extend his lead to 7-3 here. He seemed to have Robertson right under it,but when he missed a simple red Robertson pounced to close to 7-4.That missed red then took on more significance as Robertson also won the next three to level at 7-7.The next frame was a long and fascinating affair that after 72 minutes play finally went to Hawkins,but also resulted in play been stopped early to allow the afternoon session to begin.
Into tonight then and one of the highest quality sessions of snooker we are ever likely to see.
Robertson got the ball rolling with a fabulous 141 to make it 8-8 ,before Hawkins responded with runs of 104 & 108 to lead 10-8 only for breaks of 90 & 65 from Robertson either side of the interval drew thins level again at 10-10
This really was phenomenal stuff and the high quality continued as Robertson edged ahead again,this time with a 142 & Hawkins responded with a 109 to make it 11-11 .This was by now fast becoming a match that would live long in the memory and it got the finale it deserved as the next two were shared to make it 12-12. In the decider both player had a chance,but it was Hawkins who got the first real opportunity to win the match and he held his nerve to clinch a fantastic 13-12.
For Hawkins this result showed once again his bottle for the big occasion & indeed his knack of producing his best at the Crucible,but its impossible not to feel some sympathy for Robertson who has lit up this championship and may have beaten anyone else in draw on this form.
Its says a lot for the quality of that match that it has stolen the headlines from Stuart Bingham who on the other table tonight brought Ronnie O'Sullivans quest for a sixth title to an end with a gritty display.
Bingham had the upper hand in this one coming into todays second session.leading 5-3,but Ronnie appeared to have weathered the storm to lead 8-7 with a frame left in the afternoon session.Ronnie seemed set to win that one as well but he broke down on 68 and Bingham dished to level at 8-8.
Into the third session and Ronnie again took the lead at 9-8,but amazingly that would be the last frame he would win as runs of 74,88,51,85 & 66 gave Bingham a famous 13-9 win.
So there will be no sixth title for Ronnie this year and after his defeat in last years final as well it now seems that time for him to beat or equal Hendry's record of seven may have run out.
For Bingham though he can look forward to a first semi final where he will face Judd Trump who completed his match with Ding Junhui this morning in the blink of an eye,getting the frame he needed to complete a 13-4 win.
In the other quarter final Shaun Murphy finally saw off the challenge of Anthony McGill winning the end 13-8. McGill though can certainly hold his head high and I have a feeling that this will be the point where people will remember seeing him for the first time as he goes on to much success in coming seasons.
There we have it then with four men just the 35 frames from lifting the crown. Full preview will be u in the morning.