Day four at The Masters and the end of the the first round matches leave eight men still in the hunt to be crowned champion here next Sunday.
The one thing you expect at The Masters,when you consider that it represents a gathering of the games top 16 players, are tight well contested matches and that and that is what we've been treated to here this week,with of course the exception of Ronnie's demolition job on Fu yesterday.For a while this afternoon it looked as if Shaun Murphy was following suit,but such assumptions were to underestimate the fighting qualities of Ali Carter.
Into the match then & after a closely fought first frame,it was Murphy who found his groove the quicker.stomping around the table with his trademark confidence,quickly establishing a 4-0 lead going to the interval..
There has been talk in recent times as to the need for a mid session interval in the modern game,but I for one would hate to see it disappear from the game,as,giving a player a chance to regroup can so often change the direction of the match completely.
That was certainly the case here,as a refreshed Carter started to find his range with runs of 99 & 110 reducing he arrears to 4-2. Murphy did steady the ship in the next 93 to go 5-2,but back came Carter again taking the next two to close within one at 5-4.
So very much game on again at this point and had the cueball just slipped past the black instead of glancing it from Carters initial long red,who know what would have happened,but it did glance it & when the next real chance went to Murphy,he made no mistake,knocking in a match winning break of 76 to seal the 6-4 victory.
Relief in the end for Murphy then who has been having a very consistent season and he can now look forward to a quarter final against Judd Trump on Friday afternoon
Onto the evening match then and the all Scottish clash between John Higgins & Anthony McGill. In a match like this between two of the games hardest match players,there was never going to be any quarter given or asked for and a proper old fashioned snooker match was what we got.
A couple of closely fought opening frames went to Higgins to lead 2-0,but when he missed a pink from off the side cushion in frame three it eventually went to McGill and he also took the next to go to the interval at 2-2.
When they resumed it was again McGill in the ascendancy as he also took the next two to lead 4-2.Worrying times for Higgins ,but you don't win as much in the game as he has without turning around an odd crisis and that is what he did.a made it 4-3 ,before a 147 attempt in the next failed on 81.The important thing was the frame though and now on a roll he took the next to lead again 5-4.
McGill was in first in the next,but when he broke down on 41,Higgins made the most of the chance that came his way,sealing the frame with his second bite of the cherry to go through 6-4.
Tomorrow we have the start of the quarters with all eyes on the afternoon match between Ronnie O'Sullivan & Mark Allen with a not to shabby evening session between Mark Williams & Kyren Wilson to follow.