Snooker News

Maguire Closes in on Top 16

Stephen Maguire beat Jack Lisowski 5-2 in the China Open second round to maintain his hopes of breaking back into the top 16 in time for the World Championship next month.

Stephen Maguire German Masters

Maguire won the China Open in 2008 – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The Scot is fighting for the last automatic spot for the Crucible with another former semi-finalist in Sheffield, Ding Junhui.

With Ding already out of his home event, Maguire must reach at least the semi-finals to dislodge the Chinese favourite and send him to to the qualifiers at Ponds Forge instead.

Working tremendously in the 35 year-old’s favour is the draw, which has considerably opened up following the withdrawal of world no.1 Mark Selby and the losses of seeded players Joe Perry and Michael White in his quarter.

Maguire next faces Dominic Dale in the last 16 before a potentially nervy clash with either Alfie Burden or Rory McLeod.

Also advantageous for the former China Open champion is the fact that Kyren Wilson and Ryan Day, two of his closest rivals in the rankings, both lost on day three in Beijing to Rod Lawler and Ricky Walden respectively.

That means that the players who still feature in the draw below him in the rankings, and who can still break into the coveted top 16 spots, must now win the event outright.

These include Graeme Dott and David Gilbert, who saw off giant killers Yian Sijun and Lee Walker in their encounters on Wednesday.

While that developing story is one of the focal points of this week, there is of course first and foremost an important ranking event taking place.

Many of the top names continued to tumble on the third day, including Shaun Murphy who had to contest two rounds on the same day.

The Englishman was granted an extra day’s leeway to travel following his run to the semi-finals of the Players Championship in Manchester last weekend, but although he managed to win his first clash he didn’t have enough in the tank to see off Mark King – losing 5-3 to his countryman.

However, marquee players such as world champion Stuart Bingham, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Marco Fu, Walden and Maguire still remain in the hunt for success.

Oddly enough, for all his victories Higgins has never won the China Open, although he did win a similar event in its previous guise as the China International back in 1999.

The last remaining Chinese cueist in with a shout of home glory is Tian Pengfei, who ousted Michael Holt 5-2.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham followed up his triumph over Neil Robertson with a 5-4 defeat of Ben Woollaston, while Martin O’Donnell earned his third victory of the week with a solid 5-1 victory over Matthew Selt.

Thursday will see the field whittled down to the last eight.

Click here to view the draw.

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