Big Names Feature in Paul Hunter Classic Final Day

A strong field at the Paul Hunter Classic will contest the last 16 in Furth on Sunday. 

Mark Selby is bidding for a second European Tour title in a row - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Mark Selby is bidding for a second European Tour title in a row – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

World champion Mark Selby, defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump are all still in with a chance of claiming the coveted European Tour event title. 

While these satellite minor ranking tournaments are generally more blasé affairs, especially for the top competitors, the Paul Hunter Classic carries with it a greater sense of importance and prestige given its title name, its long existence and the stellar crowds that attend each year. 

Although among the favourites, there’s no guarantee that the champion later today will come from that quartet with the likes of Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire and Ricky Walden still in with a shout as well. 

Walden takes on Fergal O’Brien in the fourth round after an impressive day on Saturday saw the Irishman beat countryman David Morris, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu and amateur Adam Duffy. 

It would mark an impressive feat for the veteran Dubliner to advance all the way to the final as he is certainly in the more difficult half of the draw. 

Recent Riga Open champion Selby, who holds the record for the most Players Championship titles with six to his credit, faces Chinese danger man Liang Wenbo after superbly coming from 3-1 down to overcome Shaun Murphy with breaks of 107, 86 and 56 in the third round. 

The match of the upcoming round is arguably the tie between Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire. 

Trump also needed all seven frames in his last 32 clash with amateur Mitchell Travis, compiling a cool century in the decider, while Stephen Maguire wasn’t distracted by the superb 147 break, the first by an Indian player, made by Aditya Mehta as he progressed with a 4-2 win. 

Ronnie O’Sullivan, meanwhile, remains the favourite to collect the trophy for the second successive season and after coasting through the first three rounds the ‘Rocket’ will meet Tian Pengfei for a place in the quarter-finals. 

The bottom half of the draw is slightly less fearsome but still features Australian Robertson and Northern Ireland’s Allen. 

Allen will be hoping to go one better than his runner-up spot to Selby in Latvia a couple of weeks ago and begins his charge to another final against Gloucester’s Robert Mlikins while Robertson, having needed two seven-frame thrillers during yesterday’s play, faces Dechawat Poomjaeng of Thailand. 

Elsewhere, Alan McManus has continued his run of good form that labels him as arguably the most improved player over a long period of time on the Main Tour. 

The Scot has not let up in his performances since reaching the quarter-finals of the World Championship at the end of the last campaign, and has won an impressive 12 out of his 15 clashes so far during this season. 

Indeed, the 43 year-old has only lost to Trump and twice to Barry Hawkins as his rise back up the rankings threatens to go even further. 

McManus faces a tough test, though, with a third Chinese competitor in Xiao Guodong his next challenge – the latter performing well after failing to qualify for the Shanghai Masters, an event he reached the final in last year. 

Finally, Rod Lawler and Fraser Patrick represent the most forgettable tie, although don’t suggest for a second that neither of them can emerge victorious come Sunday evening, as Lawler proved when he won one of these tournaments at the South West Snooker Academy back in 2012. 

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here. 

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