Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham and John Higgins were a few of the survivors on a day of mass upsets at the English Open in Manchester.
The schedule at Event City came under serious scrutiny yesterday and that was heightened today with the fact that the players had to move through two rounds to reach Friday’s quarter-finals.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, runner-up in the European Masters on Sunday, looked a shattered wreck as he succumbed to a gutsy display from fellow Englishman Chris Wakelin in the last 32.
Wakelin fought back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 but looked like he missed the opportunity to record the biggest victory of his career when he twice missed frame ball pink in the sixth frame to allow the five-time world champion in for a reprieve.
Again, the 24 year-old looked edgy in the decider but a final miss from O’Sullivan let Wakelin in for a chance he couldn’t possibly let slip through his grasp.
Not only did Wakelin knock out the pre-tournament favourite, but he also fought back from 3-1 down to dispatch of Xiao Guodong in another thriller and reach the last eight of the ranking event for only the second time in his career.
Xiao had earlier knocked out Neil Robertson despite being 3-0 down while Ding Junhui, Mark Allen, Ali Carter and Kyren Wilson also lost as the seeds began to drop like flies.
However, despite a slow start to his third round encounter with Martin Gould, in-form Trump emerged past the German Masters champion 4-1 before a clinical whitewash drubbing of Mark Williams in the last 16.
Scotland’s Higgins, meanwhile, avoided becoming one of the many early casualties as he held off countryman Fraser Patrick in a final frame shoot out before emerging successful against Tom Ford with a more straightforward 4-1 scoreline.
Trump and Higgins will meet next with a semi-final berth at stake, probably in the knowledge that whoever advances between the pair will likely become the obvious favourite to collect the first of the four Home Nations trophies.
2015 world champion Bingham will have a say in that of course, and the 40 year-old in fact produced arguably the best snooker of the day as he compiled seven breaks above 50 in ousting David Gilbert and Rhys Clark to loss of just a solitary frame.
Elsewhere, China’s Liang Wenbo backed up his triumph over Shaun Murphy on Wednesday with tough victories over Fergal O’Brien and Ben Woollaston, while three-time ranking event champion Ricky Walden was equally tested as he progressed past ties with talented Asians Kritsanut Lertsattayattorn and Yan Bingtao.
Barry Hawkins moved quietly about his business with 4-1 wins over David Grace and Ryan Day while Anthony Hamilton continued his resurgent run with a comeback win against Jak Jones.
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