Neil Robertson

Riga Masters Quarter-Finals Preview

Former Riga Masters champion Neil Robertson heads an interesting last eight line-up that will fight it out for the 2018 edition on the final day of action in Latvia on Sunday.

Riga Masters Quarter-Finals
Robertson has won the first ranking event of the season in three out of the last five years. Photo credit: World Snooker

The Australian, the winner two years ago in the Eastern European capital city, was in trademark high-scoring form as he rattled in four centuries in overcoming Liang Wenbo and Craig Steadman in tight affairs.

Robertson, who has endured an up and down recent spell on the Main Tour, will face the resurgent Ricky Walden in the quarter-finals after the three-time ranking event champion counted Mark Allen among his victims on Saturday.

Walden compiled a century and four further breaks above 50 as he outscored the Masters champion with a 4-2 scoreline to add to his earlier 4-0 rout on Li Hang in the second round.

Robertson and Walden, for players who have been at the top of the game for more than a decade, have surprisingly only encountered each other on five occasions, with the former currently boasting the superior head-to-head record.

Also in the top half of the draw, there is a huge opportunity for either Stuart Carrington or Chris Wakelin to reach the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in their careers.

The English pair both needed deciding frame victories, against veterans Joe Swail and Mark King respectively, in order to match their previous best records in tournaments of this status.

With a long season ahead and with Carrington and Wakelin both hovering just inside the top 50 in the world rankings, this will represent an immediate opportunity for them to take pressure off in any potential fight for survival later in the campaign.

The duo has never crossed paths before so there’s not much to go on from past experiences and it’ll likely come down to which player can handle the occasion the best on the day.

The other side of the draw also features a world champion, proven ranking event winners, and a young Englishman looking to make the step up into the big-time.

Kyren Wilson, the highest seeded competitor remaining in the Riga Masters quarter-finals, will face last year’s runner-up Stephen Maguire in arguably the tie of the round.

Wilson, a semi-finalist in the World Snooker Championship at the end of the last term, was made to work hard for his 4-2 victory over Anthony Hamilton whereas Maguire enjoyed a relatively straightforward time of it in his last 16 whitewash of Joe Perry that included a run of 102 in the final frame.

Wilson and Maguire have clashed on only three occasions and this will be their first meeting in almost four years, when the latter took his only victory in a similarly formatted best of seven fixture.

Both cueists are looking to add to trophy hauls that perhaps look a little barren compared to the pedigree that both possess in the game, with Wilson seeking to add to his sole ranking title success from the 2015 Shanghai Masters and Maguire attempting to capture a first professional piece of silverware in four years.

Finally, 2006 world champion Graeme Dott has picked up where he left off last season – in fine fettle as he continues to make his strides back up the rankings list.

Following a close call against Tian Pengfei in the opening round on Friday, the Scot was in ruthless form with back-to-back 4-0 triumphs on day two safely booking his place in the Riga Masters quarter-finals.

The “Pocket Dynamo” will face Jack Liswoski for a berth in the last four after the 27 year-old enjoyed a routine passage through himself.

Lisowski will be hoping to at least match his best performance in a ranking event, which came when he reached the semi-finals in Shanghai in late 2017 but, in reality, there are many predicting that this will finally be the season when the Cheltenham cueist finally joins the elite.

To do that, Liwoswki will have to overcome an inferior head-to-head record against Dott, against whom he has lost to four times in six prior encounters.

An intriguing final day of action in store then with the winner on Sunday set to take home a tidy sum of £50,000.

Live coverage continues on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)

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