Judd Trump got the better of Stephen Maguire in a high-quality first round encounter at the Masters on Monday.
Both men are previous semi-finalists and would have been hoping to embark on a run to at least a maiden final, if not the title itself.
The pair met at the same stage last season with Scotland’s Maguire, who has a strong record against Trump, prevailing in a tight 6-4 tussle.
However, the roles were reversed in 2016 as the younger of the former UK champions advanced to the last eight with a same 6-4 scoreline.
The tie boasted big breaks throughout and Trump’s 3-1 advantage at the interval was integral to the overall outcome as it easily could have been the other way around.
The 26 year-old pinched a couple of frames that weren’t really his to win, and extended his lead to 4-1 upon the resumption.
Maguire gamely fought back with runs of 92, 74 and 56 to even the scores but ultimately left himself with too much catching up to do as Trump moved back in front with a 60 and took the final frame, the only in the match that didn’t provide a break above 50, to seal the victory.
Maguire looks to be in much better form than what he was demonstrating at the beginning of the campaign, but has been unlucky in the last two majors to come into power-scorers near the top of their game.
In the UK Championship, the 34 year-old met a dominant Neil Robertson, who went on to capture the trophy, and it’ll be interesting to see if Trump can match the Aussie having claimed Maguire’s scalp.
Interestingly, Trump could potentially meet the ‘Thunder from Down Under’ should Robertson overcome Marco Fu in his last 16 clash on Wednesday.
Trump has long served his apprenticeship and has mixed it with the elite for several seasons now, leading some to question where the predicted array of major titles are.
So far he has only the 2011 UK Championship to his name but one suspects that the next offering might not be too far away.
In yesterday’s evening session, Barry Hawkins reeled off the last four frames to oust Joe Perry 6-3.
With two of the worst records in the event – Hawkins had never won a match in five attempts, while Perry’s first and only match victory came last season – something had to give.
And so it was Hawkins who steeled himself better with the winning line in sight to set up a quarter-final date with Mark Allen.
On Tuesday, there is the eagerly anticipated return of Ronnie O’Sullivan, with the five-time champion taking on old foe Mark Williams in the match of the round.
O’Sullivan dusted off the cobwebs last week following his self-inflicted hiatus by romping to victory in Group 1 of the Championship League.
His opponent Williams continues to produce solid performances and, despite a poor record against the ‘Rocket’, is a realistic challenger.
Yet, O’Sullivan usually thrives in London and a packed 2000-strong crowd is sure to get his juices flowing.
Later on world no.1 Mark Selby faces Ricky Walden.