Carter Flying in China

Ali Carter ended the spirited run of amateur wild-card Lu Ning with a 5-1 victory over the 18 year-old in the last 16 of the China Open.

Carter has struggled with form and illness over the course of this season, leading him to suffer a dramatic fall in the world rankings.

In actual fact, the Englishman needs something special to happen in Beijing this week and subsequently again in Sheffield if he is to safeguard the Top 16 place that he has held for a number of years.

The 32 year-old won the Shanghai Masters in 2010 but nothing much has happened for him since which has initiated a downward spiral in results and confidence.

A significant factor to this is his battle with Crohn’s disease, which can give him substantial discomfort and pain and led to him withdrawing from the World Open earlier in March.

At one point towards the end of 2011, Carter expressed that he wanted to quit the sport and, while he didn’t fully retract the statement that he made on Twitter, admitted that he would definitely reassess his situation at the end of the season.

Things have been so bad for the 2008 World Championship runner-up that his victory over Dominic Dale yesterday was, indeed, his first triumph in 2012.

Carter will face home favourite Ding Junhui tomorrow for a place in the semi-finals, a match where he will undoubtedly begin as the underdog.

However, Ding is known for under-achievement in his backyard and he only made this stage after world number one Mark Selby was forced to withdraw from their second round tie this morning with a sore neck, so Carter may fancy his chances of an extended run.

Elsewhere, Ronnie O’Sullivan had his focussed head screwed on today and produced a much better performance against Mark Williams to prevail 5-1 – continuing an unbeaten record over the Welshman that has lasted a decade.

When O’Sullivan has turned up at the venues this season he has generally played very well but since the German Masters he has backed that up with solid match results which bodes well for an onslaught at a fourth world title next month in Sheffield.

The ‘Rocket’ will play Stephen Maguire next in a repeat of the final in Berlin after the Scot edged Ricky Walden 5-4.

Meanwhile, Stephen Lee continued his unbelievable hot streak of late with a 5-3 defeat of Graeme Dott.

Lee has now reached the quarter-final stage or better in all five ranking events since the New Year, a stretch that culminated in him lifting his first major trophy  in six years a fortnight ago in Galway.

A lot of people expected the Englishman, myself included, to have an off week in China having spent the previous seven days touring the nation for a series of exhibitions.

Yet, the 37 year-old is simply on a winning train at the minute, showing no signs of exhaustion, and one that he won’t want to alight from just yet with UK champion Judd Trump his last 8 challenge.

Finally, in the battle of four world champions, Neil Robertson saw off Stephen Hendry 5-3 while Peter Ebdon showed further signs of a resurgence with a 5-4 victory over John Higgins.

The full draw and results for the China Open can be viewed by clicking here.

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