Defending champion Shaun Murphy came from behind to beat Ding Junhui and reach the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix on Wednesday in Preston.
Ding led 2-0 and 3-2 but didn’t have a genuine opportunity to seal victory as Murphy limited his opponent to just four points in the last two frames.
The odd scheduling this week, which saw the event begin on Monday evening and which offers no afternoon session on Saturday, meant that Ding was the only player on day three who had to play two matches.
Earlier, he had dispatched of fellow Chinese Yu Delu and he looked good for a decent double only for Murphy’s late rally.
The 2005 world champion has struggled for consistency this season and has been trialling contact lenses in an effort to combat his in and out form.
Murphy, who beat Stuart Bingham in a decider to capture this crown in 2016, will play Ryan Day for a berth in the last four after the Welshman edged Michael White 4-2.
It marked a solid triumph for the 36 year-old but he will have a few feelings of regret after missing the final pink when seemingly on course for a nailed-on 147.
Perfect on the green with the colours all in open play, Day slowly began to lose track of the cue ball and, when forced to attempt an audacious method to successfully get on the black, duly fired the pink wide of the target.
Still, Day will be pleased to remain in the tournament and, following Anthony Hamilton’s long overdue victory in a ranking event on Sunday, could the three-time runner-up end his wait in quick succession?
Meanwhile, Marco Fu compiled breaks of 114, 94, and 79 in overcoming Anthony McGill 4-2, setting up a last eight encounter with Mark King.
The Northern Ireland Open champion prevailed in a war of attrition with Ali Carter, moving onto the next stage courtesy of a black ball triumph in the deciding frame.
Previously during the afternoon’s play, the last 32 reached its conclusion at the Guild Hall.
Hamilton returned for his first match since his Berlin glory and what an unusual experience it must have been, walking out to literally about ten people on his side of the venue, having three days earlier entertained more than 2,000 at the wondrous Tempodrom.
Great and historic venue the Guild Hall may be, but staging an event anywhere in which ticket sales are low is to the clear detriment of the sport’s overall publicity – simply put, it looks dreadful.
With almost half of the calendar’s ranking events staged in the UK this season, there is a case to be made that the sport has regressed somewhat in this manner, with many European countries which proved their worth during the PTC era seemingly being left behind once again.
The empty seats naturally didn’t inspire Hamilton too much, as he fell in a 4-0 defeat to a high-scoring Mark Allen.
Elsewhere, Martin Gould sent world no.1 Mark Selby home with a 4-3 win while Neil Robertson scrambled over the winning line against Ricky Walden to set up a last 16 clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Those second round matches will be completed on Thursday afternoon before the quarter-finals from the top half of the draw take place later that evening.
I have been waiting for another match between Marco Fu and Mark King for years. So please make the commentators tread carefully, especially after a commercial break maybe. I would hate them to be embarrassed by saying “And now back to the Fu-King match”….. Oh, and by the way, Shaun Murphy said after his match that he was not able to apply his contact lens yesterday due to soreness, and will not be able to wear them for a few days.
Cheers, missed that!
And yes, it’s almost as good as when Chesterfield United played Northampton Town and the broadcaster chose only to use their two respective initials in the top corner of the screen.