Ronnie O’Sullivan is out of the Shanghai Masters after a 5-2 defeat to Michael Holt in China on Thursday.
The 2009 champion was competing in his first event of the campaign and narrowly survived his opening test when he came from 4-1 down to beat Liang Wenbo in the last 32.
However, his rustiness persisted – in fact he looked well short of his usual match sharpness – and Holt took full advantage to inflict a second successive defeat of the ‘Rocket’ in their recent meetings.
Holt beat the former world no.1 in a decider at the World Grand Prix last season but O’Sullivan never really threatened to take this encounter the distance.
The early exchanges were interesting as both players worked their way into the tie but a 103 from the ‘Hitman’ helped him to level at the mid-session interval, before he controlled the second half to deservedly move into the last eight.
Holt has been a much-improved player overall since he began working with renowned coach Terry Griffiths, highlighted by his run to the final of the Riga Masters at the outset of the campaign.
It doesn’t get any easier for the 38 year-old, though, who will meet home hero Ding Junhui on Friday after the Crucible runner-up ousted Mark Allen by the same three-frame margin.
Ding is full of confidence at the moment following his success in the 6 Red World Championship earlier in September, and appears to be moving into his stride after compiling five breaks above 50 in today’s win.
Meanwhile, Michael White stunned Judd Trump by coming from three down to win five frames on the spin and reach the quarter-finals.
Trump moved 3-0 clear in double quick time but allowed his opponent back in before seemingly crumbling after going behind in the seventh frame on the final black.
Welshman White will face Stephen Maguire for a semi-final berth after the latter continued his resurgence this week with another strong victory, this time over Barry Hawkins.
The Scot lost his first frames of the tournament and wasn’t able to add to his tally of four centuries, but knocked in a 91 to complete a 5-3 triumph.
In the bottom half of the draw, Mark Selby emerged from a high-scoring affair with Stuart Carrington with a frame to spare to set up a clash with Ryan Day, who recorded a brace of centuries in his 5-2 defeat of China’s own Mei Xiwen.
Day, now 36, is still in search of his maiden ranking event crown and would certainly begin to fancy his chances if he was to reach the last four, but must obviously first overcome the world champion in a difficult test.
Elsewhere, World Open champion Ali Carter and Stuart Bingham set up an all-English tie after respective 5-2 victories over John Higgins and David Gilbert.
All four quarter-finals take place on Friday and there will be live coverage on Eurosport.