After a busy opening few days, the field at the Scottish Open has been whittled down to a final eight in Glasgow.
The standout tie is undoubtedly the encounter between two of the sport’s most successful competitors – Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins.
The pair rose through the ranks together and have duly gone on to capture the same number of 28 ranking event titles.
The ‘Rocket’ and the ‘Wizard’ have been involved in umpteen titanic battles since they both turned professional at the same time in 1992.
Not least the most recent of these clashes, when Higgins inflicted a first ever defeat for O’Sullivan in the Champion of Champions in November.
Overall, their record is as tight as you would come to expect with the Englishman boasting a slightly better head-to-head.
Higgins, though, in contrast to O’Sullivan who has been pipped at the post on a number of occasions this campaign, has enjoyed a successful bumper ride since the beginning of last month and will surely have a legion of home followers supporting him inside the Emirates Arena.
That’s if the auditorium can actually produce anything like an electric atmosphere given the fact that the opening few days, which have been poorly attended compared to the two prior legs of the Home Nations series in Manchester and Belfast, have been morbidly flat of energy.
If the crowd doesn’t flock in their droves for this tie then there’s little point in expecting much out of the weekend.
Judd Trump also features in this half of the draw, with Robert Milkins the unlikely member of the quartet bidding to reach what would be a maiden ranking event final.
However, it’d be foolish to rule out that kind of outcome completely given that the English and Northern Ireland Opens produced newbie champions in Liang Wenbo and Mark King respectively
After a few superb seasons in which he broke into the top 16 in the world rankings, Milkins has finally returned to form of that kind after several months in the doldrums.
On Thursday, he beat two highly capable players in Joe Perry and Anthony Hamilton while, somewhat oddly, he has beaten Trump in six out of their ten previous encounters.
Liang, meanwhile, remains in the hunt for a second £70,000 winner’s cheque as he comes up against fellow Chinese Yu Delu in his quarter-final.
It marks only the second time in the latter’s five-year career that Yu has reached this latter stage of a ranking tournament.
Funnily enough, the last time Yu overcame Liang was en route to said quarter-final of the 2014 Players Championship Grand Final.
In spite of this, with his experience and a building aura of confidence, Liang will of course naturally begin as the heavy favourite.
The remaining match on Friday sees Mark Davis challenge Marco Fu, who has arguably been the player of the week so far.
The Hong Konger has recorded the two highest breaks of the competition, a 142 and 141, and has compiled a thoroughly impressive seven centuries overall.
When Fu plays to his full potential he is incredibly silky around the table and he is certainly the primary dark horse to grab this title on Sunday.
Coverage continues on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Categories: Snooker News