Matthew Stevens was the first man to the reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open today as he overcame Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien 5-2 in Bendigo.
With there being such a short period in between this ranking event and the Wuxi Classic which only concluded on Sunday, the format was slightly amended to grant some of those competing in China more time to recover before their opening round clashes.
This has led to the unusual scenario in which a couple of players have already booked their last eight spots before the first round itself is even completed.
Welshman Stevens had a poor time of it during the last campaign and things didn’t appear to be getting any better when he lost his opening bout of this season in a 5-4 decider to Q-School graduate Chris Melling.
However, after overcoming Luca Brecel in a tight affair yesterday Stevens grew in confidence during his tie with O’Brien and eventually sealed his triumph with a 105 century in the last frame.
This run marks the furthest that Stevens has gone in a ranking event since he reached the last four of 2013 Wuxi Classic more than 12 months ago.
Joining him in the quarter-finals on Friday will be Robert Milkins after the Gloucester potter knocked out four-time world champion John Higgins 5-2.
Higgins appeared to be cueing well when he opened the contest with a 127 but Milkins dominated thereafter and deservedly sent the Scot packing.
Four more encounters in the last 32 were also completed on Tuesday.
The most surprising result of all came when Jamie Jones completed a 5-0 drubbing of a second Scottish star, Stephen Maguire.
Maguire was another player who struggled for much of last season but appeared to be getting back on the right track by only narrowly being defeated in the quarters in Wuxi last week before this latest setback.
Conversely, Jones will be delighted and is surely desperate to regain the form that unexpectedly brought him to the last eight in the World Championship two years ago.
Elsewhere, Stuart Bingham enjoyed a similarly easy time of it in his whitewash win over Scott Donaldson while Mark Davis and Xiao Guodong beat Dominic Dale and Liam Highfield respectively.