Ronnie O’Sullivan produced another dominant display, in a season full of them, to beat Graeme Dott in the last 16 of the Players Championship on Tuesday.
The “Rocket” is in search of a record-equalling fifth ranking event title of the season after previous successes in the English Open, Shanghai Masters, UK Championship, and the recent World Grand Prix this term already.
O’Sullivan won a tight opening frame against the Scot before proceeding to dominate the affair with runs of 106, 62, 51, 50 setting up a quarter-final tie with Ding Junhui.
This kind of tournament is tailor-made for O’Sullivan, who seems to thrive under the conditions of elite competition on home soil – underlined by a stellar record in both the prestigious Masters and the Champion of Champions in recent years.
Meanwhile, as O’Sullivan enjoys arguably the best form of his entire career, old rival Mark Selby is contrastingly experiencing a lull that is seeing him fail to challenge at the business end of the majority of this campaign’s tournaments.
The world number one again bowed out early in Llandudno, falling in a 6-3 defeat to the currently unbeatable Ryan Day.
Day has now won a dozen matches in a row in March, providing him with triumphs in both the Gibraltar Open and Romanian Snooker Masters, in what has been a magnificent month for the Welshman.
Indeed, it could get even better as his victory over the world champion sees him rise just above Mark Allen into 16th in the provisional Race to the Crucible standings, with only the China Open to come before the automatic seedings for the World Championship are determined.
Day hasn’t qualified for Beijing so will likely require another win or two to create a buffer between him and some of the chasing pack on the list but, in his current form, it wouldn’t necessarily be a huge surprise to see him go on and lift the trophy this week on home soil.
The 37 year-old won some crucial frames on the colours against Selby and sealed his place in the last eight with an excellent 133, the joint highest break of the event so far.
Day will challenge countryman Mark Williams for a semi-final berth after the latter enjoyed a routine 6-2 glory against Yan Bingtao in a repeat of their Northern Ireland Open final clash from November.
In the remaining fixture, Neil Robertson was in fantastic fettle and won five frames in succession with runs of 75, 72, 62, 103, and 107 as he hammered Belgium’s Luca Brecel 6-2.
On Wednesday, the first round will be completed with the last two ties taking place between defending champion Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire, as well as the all-Scottish battle featuring John Higgins and Anthony McGill.
Later in the evening, the quarter-finals will commence with O’Sullivan and Ding taking centre stage alone in what will be a repeat of their World Grand Prix showdown from last month.
Live coverage continues on ITV4.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)