snooker players

Welsh Wizards in Oz

Michael White edged Ali Carter in a dramatic decider to set up an all-Welsh quarter-final with Jamie Jones, who hammered Mark Selby in the Australian Open on Thursday.

Jones beat Mark Davis in round one - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Jones beat Mark Davis in round one – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

Irishman Fergal O’Brien is out, though, failing to build on his excellent victory over world champion Stuart Bingham as he was comprehensively beaten 5-1 by John Higgins.

Jones, 27, outplayed world no.1 Selby in a surprisingly one-sided affair that ended in a four-frame victory for the Neath native.

With breaks of 79, 68 and 51, Jones reached only the second ranking event quarter-final of his career – more than three years after he reached the last eight at the Crucible in Sheffield.

With the expectation tenfold following that breakthrough in 2012, Jones struggled for a long period on the circuit and suffered a dramatic plummet down the rankings.

A few more solid performances last season steadied the ship and his hard work appears to have paid off.

Standing in Jones’ way of a maiden semi-final berth is close pal White, who similarly hails from Neath.

Like Jones, White reached a World Championship quarter-final and subsequently fell off the radar somewhat, before sealing his first ranking triumph at the Indian Open back in March.

It looked as though Carter, who knocked out Shaun Murphy in a decider earlier in the week, was going to get the better of another tight tussle that ebbed one way and then the other.

White’s temperament left a lot to be desired, flinging his cue and heaving his head in frustration at almost every shot, but he just about managed to scramble enough points together in the last two frames to come from behind and pinch it.

Elsewhere, Matthew Selt secured his second successive final frame victory, backing up his narrow defeat of home favourite Neil Robertson with another close encounter against Mark Joyce.

Selt has been one of the most improved competitors on the circuit in the last year or so and his run in Bendigo marks the third time in the tournament’s five-year history that the Englishman has reached this late stage of proceedings.

The 30 year-old will take on Martin Gould next after the latter saw off Michael Holt 5-3, and it marks a wonderful opportunity for both players to embark on a rare run to the last four of a ranker.

Finally, Joe Perry edged Robert Milkins 5-3 to maintain his hopes of a second title in the 2015 calendar year.

Looking at the draw, defending champion Judd Trump does appear as the big favourite but faces one of the toughest quarter-final ties in Stephen Maguire.

Leaving Trump out of it, it really is very open and a strong case could be made for any of the remaining players involved, although Maguire, Higgins and White are the obvious picks.

With so many entertaining encounters already played out during this week it is disappointing to see the venue so sparse of bodies watching, so hopefully the crowds in the arena will improve now that the weekend is arriving.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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