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High Quality Last 8 in Wuxi

Eight remain in the hunt to win the first ranking event of the season at the Wuxi Classic in China.

One would have been forgiven to have presumed that some of those contesting the latter stages of an early season tournament would have been lesser known players capitalising on the rustiness of their higher ranked peers.

In fact, that can only be realistically said for one of those names left, and even then Robin Hull is somebody who only a couple of months ago qualified for the World Championship in Sheffield.

The Finn is the only competitor outside the world’s top 32 still in with a chance of claiming silverware on Sunday while six of those remaining reside among the world’s traditionally elite top 16.

Hull backed up his superb victory over Graeme Dott on Wednesday – where he fired in breaks of 139 and 135 – with an equally impressive 5-1 triumph over home favourite Cao Yupeng today.

Indeed, it was a distinctly bad day for the host nation’s representatives as Liang Wenbo, conqueror of world champion Mark Selby yesterday, was dumped out of the competition by England’s Joe Perry.

Perry and Hull, who will feature in his third ranking event quarter-final and first since 2006, will go head-to-head for a semi-final berth as the pair continue their attempt to gain success in a ranker for the first time in their careers despite both almost touching 40 years of age.

Elsewhere in the bottom half of the draw, Stephen Maguire and Martin Gould will do battle after contrasting last 16 performances.

Scot Maguire surprised many by recording a 5-0 victory over Judd Trump, yet the scoreline is deceiving as neither played anywhere near their best in a scrappy affair.

Maguire will be delighted, though, as he attempts to re-establish himself as a top player having spent last season mostly in the doldrums.

Gould had a tougher time of it against the in-form Ryan Day but breaks of 82 and a 122 in the last earned him a hard-fought 5-3 triumph.

Meanwhile, the top half of the draw is absolutely loaded and will prove very difficult to predict.

In the closest contest of the round, Marco Fu, who compiled consecutive centuries of 105 and 128, just about got the better of former runner-up Stuart Bingham in a 5-4 thriller.

The Hong Kong native will take on Barry Hawkins after the former Australian Open champion had too much for a gritty Alan McManus 5-2.

The final last eight clash involves a battle of the former world champions as Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy go toe to toe.

Australia’s Robertson easily saw off Michael Holt 5-1 while Murphy had similarly too much in the tank for local amateur Zhao Xintong, who looks like a potential star of the future himself.

Robertson and Murphy is a mouth-watering tie with the winner arguably becoming the overall favourite to capture Wuxi Classic glory.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.



Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.