Mark Selby survived a scare before edging into the last 16 of the Paul Hunter Classic in trademark fashion on Saturday.
Following victories over Michael Holt, in which the world number one compiled a marvellous tournament high 143, and amateur Michael Williams in the last 32, defending champion Selby fought back from 3-1 down with breaks of 66, 82, and 51 to deny veteran Joe Swail a place in the fourth round.
Selby has become a master of brinkmanship over the years, turning seemingly lost causes into opportunities for victory, a trait perhaps best underlined by his mammoth lead at the summit of the world rankings standings.
The three-time world champion will continue his bid for a record fourth Paul Hunter Classic title in Furth when he faces Welshman Michael White on Sunday’s final day of action.
Selby and White, along with Kyren Wilson, Mark King, and Shaun Murphy, are the only remaining competitors who have previously tasted success in a ranking event.
It means there is a distinct possibility that, for the third time this campaign already, there could be a maiden ranking winner on the cards.
However, Selby will undoubtedly be the heavy favourite from here on out and the short best of seven format has rarely been a problem for the 34 year-old, highlighted by an excellent record in the now defunct European Tour series.
Wilson, meanwhile, didn’t lose a single frame as he emerged from his three opening tests totally unscathed.
The former Shanghai Masters champion will meet fellow Englishman Ian Burns for a quarter-final berth after the latter edged Andy Hicks and Alfie Burden before a more convincing rout of amateur Joe O’Connor.
In total, there were 33 amateurs in the main draw last 128 hoping to fill the void left by the large number of professional non-entrants and no-shows.
George Pragnall was the only cueist from that band of players to make it to the last day, taking advantage of Mark Williams’ last minute decision to opt out of flying to Germany by following up on that walkover with dramatic deciding frame wins against Barry Pinches and David Gilbert.
Pragnall will be seeking to continue his run against lowly ranked Mitchell Mann, who has already faced two amateurs in getting to this stage of a ranking event for the first time in his career.
Finally, Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King and Mark Joyce will go head-to-head with a place in the last eight on the line.
King dispatched of recent China Championship winner Luca Brecel and 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon, while Joyce also boasted impressive victories over Andrew Higginson and Matthew Stevens.
Sunday will be a busy day in Furth as the large crowds descend on the Stadthalle for the final four rounds.
The players are bidding for a top prize of £20,000 and with it the glory of raising aloft the Paul Hunter Classic trophy, of course named in memory of the great player from Leeds who won the inaugural staging of this tournament in 2004.
Coverage continues on the Eurosport Player.
Categories: Snooker News