Mark Allen defeated Marcus Campbell 5-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open but wasted little time in goading his next opponent, Stuart Bingham.
Bingham also enjoyed a comfortable victory in the second round today when he whitewashed Tom Ford in a speedy display but will undoubtedly find it more difficult against Allen tomorrow with neither seeing eye-to-eye.
Northern Ireland’s Allen beat Bingham at the same stage of the UK Championship last season and commented afterwards on the Englishman’s lack of bottle on the big stage.
Bingham yesterday admitted to being pleased at undertaking some revenge on Ding Junhui following his 13-12 loss to the Chinese Sensation at the 2011 World Championship and Allen retorted that “it would be nice to send him back where he belongs.”
It ensures a tasty clash between the pair and opens up an intriguing grudge within the sport.
Indeed, this isn’t the first time that players have publicly expressed their disliking of one another.
Allen’s countrymen Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor famously fell out in the late 1980s, Stephen Lee was angered at Peter Ebdon’s ferocious reaction to winning their 2001 World Championship encounter in Sheffield while banned Australian Quenten Hann threatened Andy Hicks and subsequently fought Mark King in a charity boxing bout in 2004.
As long as it doesn’t go over the top, a little bit of rivalry can add a little bit of spice to a tournament and generate further interest in the game.
A bit like Paul Nicholson in the darts this week at the World Matchplay, though, one feels that Antrim’s Allen has put himself under pressure to perform in the Last 8 tie or face a wrath of embarrassing taunts from the public.
Meanwhile, in the other second round matches Irishman Ken Doherty mounted a superb comeback from 4-1 behind to clinch a deciding frame victory over Liang Wenbo 5-4.
Of course, Doherty and Liang were the original grudge bearers of the week after the Dubliner was angry at the Chinese player’s dress code during last week’s World Cup.
It marks the first time in almost two years that former world champion Doherty has contested a quarter-final in a ranking event – the 2009 Shanghai Masters – and will go a long way in protecting the 41 year-old’s place among the Top 32 in the world rankings.
Doherty’s task does not get any easier and will next face Mark Selby after the Jester from Leicester edged Mark Davis 5-3.
The Wuxi Classic champion may feel that he has nothing to lose in the event after he was 3-0 behind during his opening round match to Joe Perry.
However, despite winning in China earlier in the month, Selby will feel he needs to add to his ranking event trophy cabinet which still stands at a lonely one – the 2008 Welsh Open.
World number one Mark Williams, who pipped Selby to the German Masters last February, improved from his first round display with a second consecutive 5-2 victory, this time against qualifier David Gilbert.
The Welshman will face countryman Dominic Dale for a place in the semi-finals following a quite dramatic conclusion to Day Four in Bendigo.
Local favourite Neil Robertson pegged back Dale’s 4-2 advantage to force a decider and in a topsy-turvy ninth frame it looked like the 2010 world champion was going to send his allegiance home happy when he potted the blue to leave his opponent requiring snookers.
Yet, Robertson failed to get out of the easy snooker that Dale immediately put him in and the two-time ranking event champion sank the pink and black for a memorable triumph over the former world number one.
The draw for the Australian Open can be viewed by clicking here.