Judd Trump was at the top of his game in beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of The Masters at Alexandra Palace.
The UK Champion continued his quest for back-to-back major titles with a convincing display of potting and break-building to defethe crowd favourite in London.
The quarter-final clash had been heavily hyped ever since the pair won their respective round one ties earlier in the week and the packed arena created an electric atmosphere as both were introduced at the outset.
However, if the fans were hoping for a close affair they were rudely awakened when the 22 year-old young pretender reeled off four frames on the trot before the mid-session interval.
O’Sullivan had good chances to win the first and third frames but failed to get on the scoreboard through a mixture of unexpected missed pots and a poor safety game.
By contrast, his opponent was at his most devastating best in amongst the balls and grew in confidence before knocking in breaks of 78 and a tournament high 140 clearance to lead 4-0 in quickfire fashion.
‘The Rocket’ avoided the whitewash with a 67 in the first frame upon the players’ return and the comeback looked on when he was in early in the subsequent frame only to suffer from an unfortunate run of the balls – a perk Trump enjoyed throughout the contest.
After a protracted safety battle where O’Sullivan needed all the colours to force a re-spotted black, the 36 year-old left the green over the pocket to gift Trump a 5-1 advantage – effectively ending the encounter.
To Ronnie’s credit, he continued to battle willingly and poached Trump’s £15,000 high break prize with a stunning 141 ton and should have won the next before a missed red on 54.
That allowed world number five Trump in for the kill and he cleared the table in typical style for a convincing triumph over the four-time champion.
So it seems that the passing of the torch from one generation to the next is now complete after three successive victories in as many months for Trump over O’Sullivan.
Indeed, if the ‘Ace’ continues to play like that, the rest of the players may pack their bags already because there will be only one name on the prestigious trophy come Sunday night.
One player that could stand in Trump’s way is world champion John Higgins after the Scot beat countryman Graeme Dott 6-3 in the evening session.
Both players shared the opening two frames in similar style with one gaining an early lead only for the other to pinch it on the colours.
However, the match took an unfortunate turn in the third frame when Dott looked set to make it 2-1.
Following a succession of fouls, referee Jan Verhass stopped play to resolve a seemingly erroneous scoreboard in the arena.
By the resumption of play a few minutes later, it turned out that the scores were correct after all but a cold Dott missed his subsequent pot and his opponent eventually went on to take the lead instead.
Dott recovered well to tie the match up before the interval but Higgins shifted through the gears in the second half of the encounter and took three on the bounce for a 5-2 advantage with a high break of 109.
2006 world champion Dott kept the game alive by claiming the eighth but a single scoring visit from Higgins in the next completed the victory.
Tomorrow, the remaining two quarter-finals take place with lefties Neil Robertson and Mark Williams coming together while Englishmen Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby go head-to-head.