Ronnie O’Sullivan is into the quarter-finals of the UK Championship after a bruising victory over Robert Milkins but Ding Junhui’s incredible run of success is over.
O’Sullivan, Champion of Champions winner a couple of weeks ago, is on course to win back-to-back trophies after dismantling a hapless Milkins at the Barbican Centre in York.
The 37 year-old was never threatened and conceded a miserable 19 points in the last four frames.
There were no century breaks for the world champion but he enjoyed runs of 76, 63, 93, 58, 67 and 57 as he put in his best performance of the tournament so far.
O’Sullivan needed just 68 minutes to see off the feeble challenge and his reward is a repeat match-up of the CofC final – Stuart Bingham.
Bingham was equally ruthless as he ended David Morris’ hopes of a second ranking event quarter-final appearance this season.
The opening two frames were shared but ‘Ballrun’, who wasn’t at his fluent best again, eased through with high breaks of 60 and 54 as the challenge of his Irish opponent wilted.
It has still been another good tournament for Morris, though, who must be full of confidence having reached last 16 of the second biggest ranking major on the calendar.
For Bingham, the Englishman came very close to overcoming O’Sullivan in a scrappy final in Coventry before eventually going down 10-8 to finish runner-up.
One suspects he’ll have to raise his game considerably if he is to avoid a repeat result this time around but he is certainly capable of doing so.
However, the biggest scoreline of the day was Ricky Walden’s 6-4 defeat of China’s Ding.
The Shanghai Masters, Indian Open and International Championship winner was bidding for a rare fourth ranking event title in a row but, in truth, he never looked to be at the races during this competition and his early exit doesn’t come as a major surprise.
That said, it’s still a confidence-boosting triumph for Walden as he attempts to regain the form that brought him to the semi-finals of the World Championship in May.
The Chester cueist will compete with Mark Allen for a semi-final spot after the Northern Irishman came from behind to oust 2011 champion Judd Trump.
Allen actually defeated Walden in that year’s last four before narrowly missing out on capturing the trophy in a high-quality final but he went a small way in avenging that loss by ousting former world no.1 Trump 6-4.
In truth, it wasn’t a very pretty affair, with both players missing routines shots throughout, but the encounter turned when Allen avoided going 5-2 down in the seventh to reduce his arrears to only one frame.
The double World Open champion subsequently capitalised on a succession of Trump mistakes to complete the comeback and advance to the last eight.
The 27 year-old won’t be particularly pleased with his performance but he got the job done, which was the case with defending champion Mark Selby.
Selby would have been expecting a tough clash with dogged former world champion Graeme Dott but neither put on a good display with the ‘Jester’ able to pick off the mistakes from his opponent in a 6-2 win.
Finally, world no.1 Neil Robertson beat friend Joe Perry 6-1 with breaks of 111, 95, 74, 70 and 55.
Selby takes on Barry Hawkins while Australia’s Robertson meets former champion Stephen Maguire in an eye-catching contest.
A fantastic line-up left then and any one of the final eight could emerge victorious on Sunday night.
I stook my neck out on Twitter yesterday, though, and plumped for a Robertson versus Selby final, with the Melbourne man coming out on top, and I’m going to stick to that.
The draw can be viewed by clicking here.
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