Berlin Eight

The German Masters is down to the quarter-final stage as the final eight go head-to-head tonight in an effort to reach the business end this weekend in Berlin.

The opening couple of days has thrown up plenty of shocks but there are still a lot of big-name players still in the field – most notably world no.1 Mark Selby, going for a third big title in a row.

Selby has dominated the circuit for the last two months, beginning in early December when he claimed his maiden UK Championship title in York.

The 29 year-old then captured the Munich Open PTC event at the turn of the New Year and duly added a third Masters crown to his collection a couple of weeks later.

And now the ‘Jester from Leicester’ is seeking to continue his remarkable run by making it a hat-trick of German based trophies this season following his other PTC victory in the country at the Paul Hunter Classic during the summer in Furth.

Somewhat unusually, Selby’s has not necessarily produced his A-game in terms of scoring but what he has lacked in that department he has certainly made up for in powers of brinkmanship and his trademark never-say-die attitude.

This was highlighted again today when, despite trailing Ding Junhui in most of the statistics he still managed to open up a 4-1 advantage by nicking three frames from his Chinese opponent on the black.

Ding looked like he was going to force a decider when he got back into the encounter with some great attacking play but was left to rue a missed red to the middle in the eighth and Selby cleared, this time to the pink, to get over the winning line in an entertaining affair.

Selby’s reward is a meeting with fellow Englishman Barry Hawkins, who yesterday produced a good display to overcome many people’s tip for the title in Mark Allen 5-1.

In the same half of the draw, seasoned campaigners Matthew Stevens and Marco Fu will do battle for a semi-final berth with each potentially thinking that this could be a great opportunity to add to their, what some would say, barren trophy cabinets.

Despite both being around the top of the sport for around 15 years, they amazingly only boast a pair of ranking titles between them.

In the top half of the draw, World Championship runner-up Ali Carter takes on Michael Holt, a player seeking to reach the last four of a ranker for the first time in his career at the age of 34.

Nottingham’s Holt has always had a lot of talent but has never been able to fully utilise it, often squandering opportunities through a lack of a decent temperament.

However, he followed up a 5-1 drubbing of close pal Mark Williams, with the aid of a 144 total clearance, by knocking out the dangerous Kurt Maflin and will potentially feel that this could be his moment to make the next step in his career.

That said, Carter has looked pretty solid lately and was only denied a place in the UK final by a stunning comeback from Shaun Murphy.

Murphy himself is once again contesting the latter stages, as he so often does, but has the challenge of Neil Robertson in his last eight tie.

The same things seem to be said about Murphy every tournament – he is so good at getting to these rounds but can never seem to transform them into championship victories.

Australia’s Robbo traditionally didn’t have that problem but, funnily enough, it should be noted that it is now almost two and a half years since his last main ranking title at the 2010 World Open – a long time for somebody of his caliber.

The major question is, though, can anyone stop Selby?

Once again the atmosphere in the Tempodrom has been excellent, with a knowledgeable, enthusiastic and respectful crowd providing easily one of the best venues on the circuit.

Quarter-Final Draw

1. Ali Carter vs Michael Holt

2. Neil Robertson vs Shaun Murphy

3. Marco Fu vs Matthew Stevens

4. Barry Hawkins vs Mark Selby

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