Did Someone Say Shocks?

There were four major upsets on Wednesday and that was topped by a quartet of even bigger ones yesterday at the German Masters in Berlin.

The action comes thick and fast at the Tempodrom with seven tables in the main arena – an eighth one has also been utilised in a much-criticised extra room backstage – and Thursday saw the field whittled down to the Last 16.

While the likes of Carter, Fu, Allen and Bingham were shown the exit door on the opening day of play, a handful of even bigger names were shock casualties in the Last 32.

Arguably the most surprising was Neil Robertson, who was hammered 5-1 by China’s Tian Pengfei.

The world no.1 bemoaned his luck having had two kicks directly result in him losing frames but, in truth, his opponent was simply the better player and looked sharp in among the balls.

That said, over the course of the first two days there have been a considerable amount of kicks or bad contacts for whatever reason and it is a shame that some of the matches have been badly effected because of them.

Joining the Australian on a plane home is the player he overcame to become UK champion, Mark Selby.

A former finalist in this event, it was no laughing matter for the ‘Jester’ as he was defeated by Kurt Maflin 5-3 in what became a rather dour affair by the Norwegian’s own accounts.

Another former runner-up, and a player many people had expected to perform well this week, was Stephen Maguire and he too was dispatched of early – this time by Liang Wenbo.

In fact, it was a great day for the Chinese as they celebrated the Lunar New Year in style.

Joining Tian and Liang in the Last 16 are Xiao Guodong, who came from behind to see off Dechawat Poomjaeng in a decider, and top gun Ding Junhui, who is now the overwhelming favourite for a fourth ranking event crown this season following his 5-1 dismantling of 2011 champion Mark Williams.

Anyway, the upsets.

There were two other shock results, although not quite as big as the ones that came before.

John Higgins would usually be expected to overcome somebody of Dominic Dale’s calibre but, a mixture of it not being a particularly fruitful time in the Scot’s career at present and the Welshman oozing confidence subsequent to his recent Shoot-Out success, resulted in a 5-3 loss for the four-time world champion.

Meanwhile, Ryan Day produced a sterling, and not quite characteristic, comeback against World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins to prevail 5-4.

Day’s reward is a meeting with Anthony Hamilton, both players who I thought at the outset could have a decent chance of progressing far in this tournament and with one of whom now guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals.

Indeed, that top quarter is ensured of an unlikely semi-finalist with either Hamilton, Day, Xiao – granted, a ranking event finalist this season – and Jamie Burnett vying for a place in the last four.

There are only five members of the supposedly elite Top 16 remaining and two of them will count their unlucky stars because they face each other in the next stage.

Judd Trump, my hesitant tip for glory this week which I’m becoming increasingly more confident about, whitewashed Mark King to set up a contest with fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy.

Murphy had a much tougher time of things in his clash with Matthew Stevens but managed to come through unscathed in a 5-4 thriller.

In truth, both Trump and Murphy could do with some silverware but I fancy it’s the former who is more likely to seize this golden opportunity.

Finally, Alan McManus’ return to form this campaign continued as he came from 2-0 down to easily overcome Jack Lisowski 5-2 – the latter increasingly looking like a player who is lacking a cool temperament when a match becomes close.

McManus will play Michael Holt and both players, along with almost everyone else in the draw, will feel that there could be a significant cheque at the end of the week the way this tournament is developing.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here

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