The final day of the Gdynia Open takes place today with the last 16 gunning for the title in Poland.
Shaun Murphy is the defending champion and, following a walkover in the first round, won his two matches on Saturday to reach the fourth round.
The Masters champion takes on Scotland’s Alan McManus for a place in the last eight after the Scot steamrollered his three opponents with a hat-trick of 4-0 whitewash wins.
McManus’ form that saw him reach the quarter-finals of last year’s World Championship has waned a touch in recent months but he is still performing consistently enough to be a threat in every tournament.
A pretty high-quality last 16 line-up, though, ensures that it will wont be easy for anybody to go on and capture glory come Sunday evening.
After much confusion as to whether or not John Higgins was actually present, the Welsh Open champion did actually play and beat Jamie Cope and Mark Joyce to set up a mouthwatering clash with 2011 Crucible final opponent Judd Trump.
Higgins’ 4-3 victory over Joyce in the last 32 shot him up into the 24th and final qualifying place on the European Tour Order of Merit for the Players Championship Grand Finals later in March, in doing so knocking Irishman Fergal O’Brien out of the running for a potential trip to Bangkok.
However, Higgins will need to keep winning his ties to guarantee his own flight to the Far East as David Gilbert, Liam Highfield and Stuart Carrington are all within striking distance should they reach the business end today.
Highfield arguably has the toughest task as he comes up against two-time world champion Mark Williams, though should be full of confidence following his deciding frame success over Mark Selby on Friday.
Gilbert comes up against Joe Perry in the battle of the English players while the much-improved Carrington faces Belgium’s Luca Brecel.
Elsewhere, there’s an intriguing tie between Australia’s Neil Robertson and 19 year-old hotshot Oliver Lines – finalist in the Haining Open earlier in the campaign.
Dominic Dale, who lies just above Higgins in the race to Thailand standings, tackles Robert Milkins while Jimmy Robertson takes on former Grand Finals runner-up Martin Gould.
For Jimmy White fans wondering about his tour survival prospects, his first round defeat to Jamie Burnett yesterday ensures that he will require several wins in the World Championship to have any chance of breaking back into the top 64 in the world rankings.
However, hope remains for the ‘Whirlwind’ as even if he does lose his card that way, he is likely going to receive a two-year Main Tour ticket via the Order of Merit following decent results on the European Tour overall this year.