Williams Whitewashes Stevens

Welshman Mark Williams thrashed his countryman Matthew Stevens 5-0 to book his place in the last four of the Shanghai Masters in China.

The world number one continues to gallantly defend his status as the world’s best player from the stern challenge of Mark Selby, who also won in contrasting fashion.

Championship league winner Stevens never performed anywhere near his capabilities while his opponent was ominously approaching his most fluent best.

The Australian Open finalist had a top run of 129 in the third frame and never really allowed his compatriot too many chances throughout the one-sided encounter.

At the moment, Williams is behind Selby in the provisional world rankings ahead of the official update in the standings next month and, realistically, needs to win in Shanghai to prevent the Englishman claiming top spot for the first time in his career.

Selby himself dodged a bullet, as he so often does with his steely determination, by rallying from 4-2 behind to oust Shaun Murphy 5-4.

It was Murphy’s third decider of the week but he couldn’t make it a hat-trick of triumphs as his Leicester opponent grew in stature with a decisive 117 century break to clinch his semi-final berth.

Selby will face Mark King for a place in the final after the 37 year-old ousted Ronnie O’Sullivan’s conqueror Anthony Hamilton 5-2 in a nervy clash.

King could become the second player over the age of 30 to win the first ranking event title of his career following Stuart Bingham’s victory in Victoria last July.

Interestingly, it is 14 years since King first appeared in a ranking event final and seven years since his second and last appearance – both times defeated – so the omen of sevens could be in his favour in tomorrow’s last four tie with Selby.

Finally, in the battle of the last two world champions, Neil Robertson got the better of an out-of-form John Higgins to go beyond the quarter-finals in a Chinese ranking event for the first time.

A 5-2 display was more than enough to dispatch of the Scot, who has been patchy at best so far in this campaign, and the Aussie will meet fellow left-hander Williams in what will surely be an attacking match-up.

Robertson has claimed at least one ranking event title in each calendar year since 2006 and only has the Shanghai Masters and the UK Championship to continue that impressive streak.

To view the full draw, click here.

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