Judd Trump edged Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 to reach the quarter-finals of the UK Championship in York today.
There was never more than a frame between the two entertainers in the entire encounter as the lead traded hands on several occasions.
The result mirrors the contest the duo served up a few weeks ago in the final of the Antwerp Open when the young Bristol potter also emerged victorious in a match of unbelievable quality – that time 4-3.
During this afternoon’s clash, they traded the opening eight frames to leave things nicely poised at 4-4 but ‘The Rocket’ appeared to take control with a break of 69 to go within one frame of triumph.
O’Sullivan, who claimed a record tenth Premier League title a couple of weeks ago but has failed to lift a ranking event trophy in more than two years, looked set to win the match in the next frame only to see his opponent force a decider on the pink.
In the final frame itself, Trump got in first and although Ronnie had the opportunity to tie the scores for a re-spotted black, the former world number one got an untimely kick that effectively concluded the exciting encounter.
It was a fantastic advert for the championship and perhaps proved the increasing realisation over the last year or so that there is a changing in the guard at the summit of the sport.
Indeed, Trump’s opponent in the last eight is probably not who he expected it to be as Scotsman John Higgins fell victim to countryman Stephen Maguire.
Maguire looked in complete control for the entire match against a completely out-of-sorts defending champion.
At 5-1 ahead, Maguire had already superbly knocked in the tournament’s highest break of 144 while the world champion’s pot success rate was a shockingly low 85%.
However, 2004 UK champion Maguire has failed to live up to his nickname of ‘On Fire’ over the last couple of years and began to falter under the tension – making a hash of a relatively easy match winning clearance in the seventh frame after Higgins had compiled a century of his own in the previous.
Higgins then fired in a 95 to make it 5-4 but missed an easy black off the spot in the subsequent frame to maintain the pressure and Maguire kept his cool to see out the victory.
In the other second round clashes today, Ding Junhui withstood a spirited fight back from Matthew Stevens to win another deciding frame thriller.
It is the second nail-biter of the week so far for the twice former champion, conclusively ending claims of a lack of temperament that was labelled on the 24 year-old previously in his career.
The Chinese star will face Neil Robertson for a place in the semi-finals after the Australian saw off Graeme Dott 6-3 in a scrappy affair that included two re-spotted blacks.