Selby and O’Sullivan Take Centre Stage Again

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby have set up a mouth-watering Welsh Open clash after winning their last 16 ties on Thursday.

Mark Selby Celebrates
Selby beat O’Sullivan to win the 2014 World Championship – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

However, the defending champion John Higgins and highly-fancied Judd Trump have both been knocked out.

O’Sullivan dropped only his second frame of the tournament thanks to a fluked re-spotted black from Yu Delu in the opening frame of their contest but dominated the remainder of the encounter for another comprehensive victory that included runs of 132, 96, 70 and 66.

Selby was made to a work a lot harder in his battle with home favourite Mark Williams, twice coming from behind before reeling off the last three frames with the help of two tons for a 4-2 success.

The ‘Rocket’ and the ‘Jester’ meet at the same stage as their Masters clash at Alexandra Palace in January, which O’Sullivan prevailed in before going on to lift the title in London.

The pair have previous in the Welsh Open too, with Selby famously coming from 8-5 behind to pip O’Sullivan in the 2008 final, thus collecting his maiden ranking event trophy.

But despite being the world no.1 and boasting quite a good record against the five-time world champion, Selby will still begin their contest as the underdog – especially given how well O’Sullivan has performed so far this week.

The crowd at the Motorpoint Arena may have been disappointed to see their twice former champion Williams fall by the wayside but their reprieve came with fellow Welshman Michael White’s 4-1 defeat of Higgins.

With a jump back into the critical top 16 in the world rankings, where automatic qualification for the World Championship is at stake, already assured, White will have some pressure off his shoulders as he prepares to face Mark Allen in the last eight.

Antrim’s Allen withstood a fightback from Barry Hawkins but eventually got over the winning post in a decider, and so avenged a few painful losses to the 36 year-old in the last year.

Elsewhere, China’s Ding Junhui continued his timely revival with another battling victory, this time thanks to a 4-2 victory over the in-form Luca Brecel.

Ding is also one of the many competitors scrambling for those coveted top 16 places before April.

Such has his rapid decline been that he has plummeted from the world no.1 to provisionally around no.20 in just over a year.

The 28 year-old will meet familiar foe Neil Robertson for a semi-final berth after the Australian compiled a brace of centuries in an otherwise long affair with Marco Fu which also ended in a 4-2 scoreline.

Trump, meanwhile, let slip a 3-2 advantage over Joe Perry to lose in a decider to his fellow Englishman.

It prolongs a series of tournaments this season in which Trump will feel like his has missed the opportunity to threaten for some silverware in the latter stages.

Perry’s reward is a quarter-final tie with Ben Woollaston, the runner-up from 12 months ago who obviously has some sort of love affair with Cardiff, continuing another good week after a 4-1 triumph over German Masters champion Martin Gould.

Friday’s last eight will see the format increase to best of nine frames.

Click here to view the draw.

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