O’Sullivan and Ding Seek Quarters Berth

The quarter-final line-up for the 2013 World Championship will be completed today as the four remaining last 16 ties come to a conclusion at the Crucible.

Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, Barry Hawkins and Michael White have all already booked their places in the next round.

The other four places are still well up for grabs as each of the matches have a long way to go despite all entering their final sessions.

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan boasts a narrow 9-7 advantage over Ali Carter in a repeat of their final twelve months ago.

Carter had won six frames out of eight to fight back to all square at 7-7 in Sunday’s middle session but the ‘Rocket’ ensured he carried some sort of a lead in the final bout of action by compiling two half centuries in the last two frames.

The 37 year-old has looked very assured since his comeback – indeed O’Sullivan doesn’t appear to have lost much in his year-long absence.

The only major concern he may have, and something that could be his eventual undoing in the tournament, is his long game.

O’Sullivan has struggled with pots from any considerable distance but even so, the Chigwell cueist will become the favourite for the title should he see off what was on paper a very difficult assessment in Carter.

Carter is by no means out of this match, though. The Germans Masters champion dominated in spells and will probably rue the fact he let his opponent run away again having done so well to catch up in the first place.

The 33 year-old will be seeking a good start today and if he can even it up by the mid-session interval it will be interesting to see how O’Sullivan will be able to cope with the extreme pressure.

The same could be said of Ding Junhui and Mark King’s encounter, which also currently stands at 9-7 in favour of the Chinese.

Ding claimed seven of the eight frames in the second session to come back from 6-2 down overnight.

Reason should suggest that the 26 year-old will run away with it now having got his nose in front but this event has been anything but normal.

A lot of the top seeds have tumbled early on, several falling to the old guard seasoned pros like King.

But it is even more imperative for the 39 year-old to get off to a good start upon the resumption because Ding will grow in confidence if he begins to stretch the lead further and quickly.

There is pressure on the PTC Grand Finals champion because not only does he have a poor record in Sheffield but there is almost an expectancy now that he will reach the final the way the draw has opened up.

Of course, there are many players who will have a say in that eventuality – two being Ricky Walden and Robert Milkins.

Walden enjoys a bigger gap to Milkins than O’Sullivan or Ding do in their respective matches with the Chester character 10-6 up on fellow Englishman Milkins.

All seemed to be lost for Milkins when he found himself 9-3 down and in desperate peril but the conqueror of Neil Robertson won three important frames successively to reduce his arrears and still has a small chance at four frames behind.

That said, it would be surprising if Wuxi Classic champion Walden surrenders the advantage as he seems ready to make a step up in class by reaching the last 8.

For somebody who had never won a match at the Crucible before, his run is turning into an impressive one and could lead to a very intriguing match-up with young debutant Michael White.

In the last game to be completed, proceedings are nicely poised for Stuart Bingham and Mark Davis with the pair locking horns 8-8.

Both of these players would be deserved quarter-finalist in their own right as the duo have equally achieved so much in the last couple of years since the influx of new competitions under the Barry Hearn era.

Davis has begun to consistently reach the business end of big tournaments while Bingham, after winning the 2011 Australian Open, supported his step into the higher echelons of the sport with a brace of runs to ranking event finals this season.

This contest is very difficult to call and it could result in a deciding frame shoot-out but if you had to plump for one it would have to be Bingham.

Yet, as we have already seen, there can be no guarantees in a World Championship setting.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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