Mark Allen became the first player to reach the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Snooker Championship after a 13-8 victory over Joe Perry on Friday.
The Northern Irishman was in front for most of the match and managed to pull away in the final session as Perry’s game abandoned him.
The latter had fought well to keep the scoreline close after the first sessions, repeatedly retrieving two frame deficits to restore parity following the conclusion of session two at 8-8.
However, Allen won a couple of crucial close frames at the beginning of the third session and when he went 12-8 up the job was all but done.
The Masters champion only narrowly squeezed into the top 16 in the world rankings before the action in Sheffield got under way, thus avoiding the dreaded qualifiers at the English Institute of Sport, and he has duly taken advantage by orchestrating a run to the last eight for the first time in seven years.
Indeed, it’s almost a decade since the 32 year-old’s memorable run to the last four, his 2009 appearance the only time he has made the single table set-up at the Crucible, and Allen is now one game away from finally matching that.
In the quarter-finals Allen could face Kyren Wilson, who of course he overcame to lift the Masters trophy at the Alexandra Palace in January.
The Kettering cueist holds a narrow 5-3 advantage over Jamie Jones after their opening session.
The other major story on day seven, though, centred on the contest between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter.
In 14 previous meetings with one another outside of the Championship League, Carter had never beaten the “Rocket” – including on four previous occasions in the World Championship and two Crucible finals.
But the 38 year-old was able to take advantage of some uncharacteristically sloppy play from the five-time world champion to establish a modicum of control heading into their last session on Saturday afternoon.
Carter may, in fact, feel a little disappointed with just a two-frame cushion, leading O’Sullivan 9-7 despite at one point being five frames in front.
O’Sullivan could barely string a few pots together while his long pot and safety success rates were way down on the norms that we’ve become accustomed to with him, this season especially.
Carter was able to pick off the mistakes and at 8-3 up would have hoped to be boasting a superior lead but O’Sullivan did finally manage to shift through the gears late on into their second session to salvage the situation.
With 13 the target, O’Sullivan has probably gone slight favourite again but he wouldn’t want to start play slowly again like he did in session two or Carter, who was noticeable in his avoidance of eye-contact with the table when his opponent was in among the balls, will definitely begin to fancy the job.
Elsewhere, Barry Hawkins also finds himself 9-7 in front but will likely be thankful of the margin after a terrific blast from Lyu Haotian saw him retrieve an 8-3 deficit of his own.
The 20 year-old, the youngest man in the draw this year, reeled off breaks of 125, 72, 79, and 60 to get to within one frame before Hawkins crucially took the last to avoid the scores becoming level.