The 2023 Masters is at the quarter-finals stage with eight players still in the running to secure the prestigious invitational title.
After safely negotiating their opening hurdles, three more wins are needed in order to capture the Paul Hunter Trophy and the £250,000 top prize.
Here is a brief overview of the upcoming clashes in the Masters quarter-finals at the Alexandra Palace.
Shaun Murphy vs Stuart Bingham
It seems like quite a long time ago when Shaun Murphy dispatched defending champion Neil Robertson on the opening day of the competition.
The Magician will have to wait until Friday evening to return to the fold, where he’ll take on a familiar foe in Stuart Bingham.
The pair contested a memorable World Championship final eight years ago when Bingham emerged with an unlikely world crown at the Crucible Theatre.
Bingham compiled a hat-trick of century breaks and survived a late-match wobble to see off Kyren Wilson in his first-round tie on Wednesday.
Both Murphy and Bingham have etched their names onto the Masters silverware and understand what it takes to go the distance in London.
Murphy boasts the superior head-to-head record, but Bingham won the pair’s only previous tie in this competition when they encountered each other at the same stage in 2021.
Barry Hawkins vs Judd Trump
How Judd Trump managed to prevail from his last-16 tie with Ryan Day, only the snooker gods will know.
The 2019 champion was nothing short of awful for the majority of the match but ultimately could rely on a merciful Day making mistake after mistake of his own.
Having emerged in unexpected fashion, Trump may just receive a new lease of life moving forward in the event.
His Masters quarter-finals opponent will be Barry Hawkins, who conjured the biggest surprise so far with a 6-0 annihilation of the in-form Mark Allen.
The head-to-head between Trump and Hawkins is close, with the former just about shading it 14-13 from their prior battles in all events – although Hawkins has won the last three.
They encountered each other last year at the Ally Pally, with Hawkins winning the last two frames for a 6-5 victory.
Hossein Vafaei vs Jack Lisowski
Many will look to this fixture as the tie of the round, with two of snooker’s most exciting young – relatively young, at least – talents facing off.
Hossein Vafeai made the most of his late call-up by outscoring Mark Selby on his debut on Sunday evening, while Lisowski ousted John Higgins.
Both players are regarded as potential serial champions who haven’t quite been able to elevate themselves to that level quite yet.
- CLICK HERE: Jack Lisowski – ‘I’ve been working really hard’
Here, then, there is a huge opportunity for one of them to reach the last four at the Masters for the first time in their respective careers.
The stats don’t bode well for Vafaei, however, who has only beaten Lisowski once from seven previous encounters.
That includes two defeats in the last couple of UK Championships, and Lisowksi will be intent on righting many of his old wrongs this week after subsequently missing out on a final berth in York in November.
Mark Williams vs Ronnie O’Sullivan
A heavyweight duel if ever there was one, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams meet for the 50th time in professional competition.
The record significantly favours the Rocket, who has beaten Williams on 34 occasions and has generally dominated their rivalry down through the years.
O’Sullivan comprehensively thrashed Luca Brecel 6-1 on Monday while Williams defeated David Gilbert 6-2 a day later.
The Welshman said in his post-match press conference that he’s due a win over O’Sullivan, and he couldn’t have come much closer than at last year’s Tour Championship when he was downed 10-9.
Williams obviously has the pedigree to make this match interesting, but the more likely scenario probably sees O’Sullivan progressing to the next round.
The seven-time champion looked focussed earlier in the week, and with problematic opponents Selby, Higgins, and Robertson all out, he’ll be eyeing up title number eight in London.
How to Watch the Masters
The full 2023 Masters schedule will be broadcast live on the BBC and Eurosport.
There are various other broadcasters around the world providing coverage of the Masters, which can be viewed by clicking here.
For all other territories, the action can be followed on the Matchroom.Live streaming service via a subscription.
Featured photo credit: WST