Judd Trump became the first player to book a Players Championship semi-final spot after a 5-3 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in Llandudno on Wednesday.
The 27 year-old has been in terrific form throughout this season, even if he hasn’t quite managed to obtain a quantity of silverware he would be more satisfied with, and he continued in the same fashion to knock out the Masters champion at the quarter-final stage in Wales.
Trump lost the opening frame but reeled off the next three before the interval with the aid of a 113 to establish a 3-1 advantage.
O’Sullivan managed to pull one back after the break but crucially lost a tight sixth frame which arguably represented the pivotal juncture of the contest.
At 4-2, Trump had breathing space and, despite a 109 from his opponent to again reduce the gap to a single frame, the European Masters champion sealed the triumph with a run of 60.
Discounting a Championship League round-robin fixture, this marks Trump’s fourth victory in succession over the “Rocket”, including the three finals, indicating the young pretender has finally got the measure of the aging champion.
The former world number one will be hoping to use the confidence gained over the last few months to finally obtain another trophy, and he awaits the winner of the Neil Robertson and Ali Carter tie on Thursday.
Carter was one of two cueists who emerged from deciding frame thrillers on day three as the last 16 reached its conclusion.
The World Open champion constructed a brace of centuries as he held off Shaun Murphy for a 5-4 success.
Meanwhile, Ding Junhui staged a remarkable comeback as he denied John Higgins a last eight berth by the same scoreline.
The latter appeared to be in complete control after opening up a 4-0 cushion before the mid-session interval but the match completely changed upon the restart.
Ding looked to get what was going to be a consolation frame in the fifth to avoid a dreaded whitewash but thereafter suddenly discovered his scoring boots to stun the four-time world champion.
Tallies of 83, 67, 107, and 59 helped the biggest star from China to somehow survive in the tournament – one that he tasted glory in under a previous guise in 2013.
Ding next will meet Anthony Hamilton, arguably the player of the campaign so far, buoyed by the fact he remains in the event with a chance of pocketing the £125,000 winner’s cheque.
Their encounter doesn’t take place until Friday evening, but also on the fourth day of action is the clash between Mark Selby and Marco Fu.
That pair’s most recent battle came during the semi-finals of the 2016 World Championship, when Selby emerged triumphant in a gruelling affair 17-15 before proceeding to lift his second Crucible crown.
A stellar cast of competitors remain as this prestigious event nears the business end of proceedings.
Coverage continues on ITV4.