Mark Allen and Joe Perry both emerged victorious from their first round encounters at the Masters on Monday.
That they made it through to the quarter-finals in London under different circumstances would be a great understatement.
Allen, who has shortened to 14/1 with the latest 888sport betting odds, overcame two-time champion John Higgins in a thriller 6-5.
It marks the third occasion that the Northern Irishman has toppled Higgins at this stage of the event, with the latter now having suffered an incredible 12 exits at the first hurdle in his 23 total appearances.
For a long period it looked as though Higgins was going to avoid adding to his unwanted record of early defeats.
The Scot opened up a 2-0 advantage with the aid of a 111 break and also led 3-2, before Allen began to find his scoring boots.
The 30 year-old fired in runs of 81 and 104 to take the advantage for the first time but Higgins soon pulled level again.
A dramatic ninth frame saw the pair trade breaks of 67 before a re-spotted black ensued, with Allen nailing a spectacular long pot to move to within one frame of victory.
Higgins responded well with a quick 77 to force a decider and had the opening few chances to advance, but the ‘Wizard’ missed a key black off the spot to allow Allen in for a memorable triumph.
How far the Antrim man can now go remains the obvious question, with Judd Trump or Marco Fu his next opponent.
Allen is widely regarded as one of the most talented players on the circuit but his inconsistency is what has held him back from capturing major titles until this point.
That said, he looked composed and energised by the packed auditorium at the Alexandra Palace and, as a known streaky player, if he could become hot at the right time he may become a dangerous threat this week.
Meanwhile, Joe Perry enjoyed a much more comfortable outing as he easily dispatched of Stuart Bingham 6-1.
Perry, who admitted recently to being a bit disillusioned with the game of late, compiled a brace of century breaks to record only his second ever victory in the Masters.
Bingham’s consolation was a run of 132, currently standing as the highest break of the tournament, and the prospect of a quick return home to see his new baby daughter Marnie, who he just welcomed into the world on Saturday.
For Perry, it’s a date with 2011 champion Ding Junhui, a player who he previously beat in his sole other success at Ally Pally two years ago.
On Tuesday, the fifth and sixth encounters in the last 16 take centre stage.
Trump and Fu clash in the afternoon slot before an equally intriguing battle between Neil Robertson and Ali Carter scheduled for the evening’s play.
On current form, both matches appear to be evenly balanced, but the head-to-head records convincingly favour Trump and Robertson to progress.
Filtering out the short formatted Championship League, Fu has only beaten Trump twice in 11 attempts, albeit one of those times was during the 2014 edition of the Masters.
Yet, if the Hong Konger can produce the levels of snooker which had him romp to glory in the Scottish Open before Christmas then it should be an interesting affair.
Robertson similarly boasts the superior statistical advantage with eight wins and just three defeats against Carter.
However, the Australian hasn’t really produced his best snooker since a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Ronnie O’Sullivan in the European Masters.
Robertson could have the opportunity to avenge that crushing defeat with the ‘Rocket’ already awaiting the winner of this tie in the last eight.
Coverage continues on BBC and Eurosport.
Categories: Snooker News