Stephen Maguire got the better of defending champion Judd Trump as he reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Friday.
Trump had comfortably won his opening two rounds without ever being put under any great deal of pressure, but the 25 year-old knew he was in for a different sort of contest after the opening frame against gritty Maguire.
Leading by 52 points, the Scot cleared to the pink with a run of 62 to clinch it and set in motion a series of frames that transpired in a similar pattern.
Trump was out of sorts, visible after he missed a routine black off the spot in the second frame, and Maguire doubled a re-spotted black to go two up before subsequently extending his lead to three frames.
Trump got on the board before the interval with a break of 51 but that was to be as good as it got as Maguire pinched the remaining two close frames for a 5-1 triumph.
The scoreline was almost a repeat of last year’s opening ranking event of the season in Wuxi, when Maguire whitewashed Trump 5-0.
It continues a good beginning to this campaign for the 34 year-old, after partnering John Higgins to the World Cup final in China a couple of weeks ago – a player who he could yet meet in the final in Bendigo on Sunday.
Standing in Maguire’s way is Martin Gould, who recorded a similar 5-1 victory in his quarter-final bout with fellow Englishman Matthew Selt.
Selt took the opener but, after a protracted couple of frames, Gould got his nose in front at 2-1 and let his opponent score just a single point thereafter as he romped to victory with breaks of 122, 72 and 58.
Gould has arguably been one of the best players so far this week, scoring heavily in each of his encounters, but the pressure will mount as he attempts to claim his maiden ranking event triumph.
In the other half of the draw, Higgins managed to scramble past Joe Perry 5-3 despite boasting a high break of only 51, in stark contrast to the latter who enjoyed runs of 137, 136 and 69.
Higgins has been a much-improved competitor in 2015, his confidence boosted from getting back to winning ways at the Welsh Open, and the further he goes in a tournament the more dangerous an animal he becomes.
The 40 year-old will be a big favourite to see off his last four challenger Jamie Jones, who will make his debut at this stage of an event following his dramatic 5-4 success over friend Michael White.
For the second time this week, Jones came from 4-2 down to secure his passage into the next round.
Even better, the 27 year-old responded to White’s 56 break in the decider with a cool 66 clearance to impressively seal his semi-final berth.
After triumphs over Marks Davis and Selby, as well as Indian Open champion White today, Jones should be feeling great, but, like Gould, the question will be whether he can handle the pressure of a single table set-up against a formidable and experienced foe.
Two interesting semi-finals to look forward to then, with an all-Scottish final the most likely outcome Down Under.