After a frantic few days, eight players remain in the hunt for the English Open title with the quarter-finals next on the schedule in Brentwood.
Half of the octet will vie for a maiden ranking title, with the other four proven winners including the likes of John Higgins, Judd Trump, and Ding Junhui.
Additionally, only Trump and Higgins are already guaranteed spots in November’s Champion of Champions invitational, so there’s plenty to play for over the coming three days.
Three further wins separate the surviving contenders from capturing the Steve Davis Trophy and collecting a top prize worth £80,000.
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Martin O’Donnell vs John Higgins
Friday, not before 2pm BST
Martin O’Donnell conjured a shock in the second round when he dispatched reigning English Open champion Mark Selby.
The 37 year-old, currently ranked outside the top 100, backed it up with victories against Stephen Maguire and He Guoqiang.
It brings O’Donnell to a sixth career quarter-final appearance in a ranking event, and to match his previous best run of a semi-final he’ll have to overcome another of the game’s all-time legends.
John Higgins has been knocking on the door of a strong week this season without a great deal to show for it, losing a couple of agonising deciding-frame thrillers in the process.
But the Scot is safely through to the last eight here and will be one of the favourites with so many of the marquee names already accounted for.
Higgins and O’Donnell have only faced each other on two previous occasions.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the former who enjoys the upper hand by winning both times, albeit the last of those matches was way back in 2018.
Judd Trump vs Matthew Selt
Friday, 12pm BST
An all-English affair between Judd Trump and Matthew Selt is first up on Friday’s quarter-final schedule at the English Open.
It marks the first time the pair has crossed paths in a ranking event since last year’s Turkish Masters final.
Trump was a comprehensive 10-4 winner that day and will be a big favourite to emerge with the glory again here.
A runner-up in this season’s European Masters, the 34 year-old is hoping to secure a first ranking title since that success in Turkey.
Trump hasn’t been at his free-scoring best this week so far but has done just about enough to negotiate the initial hurdles.
Selt, meanwhile, has been involved in a number of close ties, playing all but one of his allotted frames at the Brentwood Centre.
That was courtesy of his 4-2 victory against world no.3 Mark Allen, but sandwiching that was a brace of dramatic 4-3 defeats over Michael White and Ricky Walden.
Selt has beaten Trump seven times from their prior 17 battles in all competitions, but only three of those have been in events carrying ranking points.
Zhang Anda vs Zhou Yuelong
Friday, 7pm BST
An all-Chinese bottom half of the draw guarantees that there will be one cueist from China in Sunday’s final.
Zhang Anda matched his career best ranking event run with a 4-2 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday.
It will undoubtedly have been a special victory for Zhang, but it’s fair to assess that the world no.1 was perhaps not as interested in the game as he could have been.
That being said, 31 year-old Zhang didn’t buckle at all when the opportunity presented itself, winning the last three frames with breaks of 97, 50, and 116.
Zhou Yuelong will be Zhang’s opponent after the former outplayed Ali Carter, compiling four half-century breaks in orchestrating a 4-1 victory.
Zhang and Zhou have played each other five times on the World Snooker Tour, with Zhou enjoying a superior 3-2 advantage.
Interestingly, their two most recent showdowns have gone the distance, and although Zhou will be the favourite, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see this one go close either.
Liu Hongyu vs Ding Junhui
Friday, 7pm BST
For the second successive week, Ding Junhui edged world champion Luca Brecel 4-3 – again ending the Belgian Bullet’s ongoing aspirations of topping the rankings list.
Even though he hasn’t looked in prime form, Ding has worked hard to force his way through the rounds.
The 14-time ranking event winner must be looking at his half of the draw and believing he’s finally got a glaring opportunity to at least reach a final.
Ding’s last piece of silverware in a ranking event came at the 2019 UK Championship, far too long of a barren spell for a player of his calibre.
The 36 year-old faces tour rookie Liu Hongyu in the last eight – the youngster enjoying a remarkable run that has already seen him oust two of this campaign’s three ranking champions – Shaun Murphy and Mark Williams.
The 19 year’s match with Williams on Thursday didn’t start until 11pm, exposing a ridiculous schedule at tournaments like the English Open which needs addressing.
Whether his post-midnight scrap with the Welshman will negatively influence his performance on Friday remains to be seen.
Ding and Liu played each other last week at the British Open, with the former outlasting his young countryman in a decider.
2023 ENGLISH OPEN DRAW
Round of 128
(held over fixtures)
Mark Selby 4-1 Xing Zihao
Ryan Day 4-2 Ashley Hugill
John Higgins 4-3 Marco Fu
Kyren Wilson 3-4 Oliver Lines
Judd Trump 4-0 Sean O’Sullivan
Robert Milkins 4-1 Robbie Williams
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Anthony Hamilton
Mark Allen 4-0 Mostafa Dorgham
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-0 Andrew Pagett
Jack Lisowski 4-1 Matthew Stevens
Elliot Slessor 4-2 Ryan Davies
Ali Carter 4-1 Jamie Clarke
Neil Robertson 2-4 Sanderson Lam
Shaun Murphy 3-4 Liu Hongyu
Mark Williams 4-0 Ian Burns
Ding Junhui 4-3 Ma Hailong
Luca Brecel 4-3 Stan Moody
Round of 64
Mark Selby 2-4 Martin O’Donnell
Stephen Maguire 4-2 Louis Heathcote
Ryan Day 3-4 He Guoqiang
Hossein Vafaei 4-3 Julien Leclercq
David Lilley 2-4 Mark Davis
James Cahill 2-4 John Higgins
Cao Yupeng 4-0 David Gilbert
Martin Gould 1-4 Oliver Lines
Judd Trump 4-1 Scott Donaldson
Jimmy Robertson 4-3 Allan Taylor
Robert Milkins 4-3 Adam Duffy
Tom Ford 2-4 Yuan Sijun
Hammad Miah 2-4 Ricky Walden
Graeme Dott 4-2 Barry Hawkins
Michael White 3-4 Matthew Selt
Wu Yize 1-4 Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 Jackson Page
Si Jiahui 4-0 Fergal O’Brien
Jack Lisowski 3-4 Elliot Slessor
Anthony McGill 1-4 Zhang Anda
Lukas Kleckers 1-4 Jenson Kendrick
Liam Pullen 0-4 Ali Carter
Andrew Higginson 2-4 Zhou Yuelong
Stuart Carrington 0-4 Sanderson Lam
Liu Hongyu 4-1 Joe O’Connor
Chris Wakelin 4-1 Jamie Jones
Mark Williams 4-3 Xiao Guodong
Dylan Emery 4-1 Oliver Brown
Dominic Dale 3-4 Gary Wilson
David Grace 1-4 Ding Junhui
Muhammad Asif 4-3 Fan Zhengyi
Andy Hicks 1-4 Luca Brecel
Round of 32
Martin O’Donnell 4-1 Stephen Maguire
He Guoqiang 4-3 Hossein Vafaei
Mark Davis 0-4 John Higgins
Cao Yupeng 2-4 Oliver Lines
Judd Trump 4-3 Jimmy Robertson
Robert Milkins 1-4 Yuan Sijun
Ricky Walden 4-3 Graeme Dott
Matthew Selt 4-2 Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 Si Jiahui
Elliot Slessor 1-4 Zhang Anda
Jenson Kendrick 0-4 Ali Carter
Zhou Yuelong 4-0 Sanderson Lam
Liu Hongyu 4-3 Chris Wakelin
Mark Williams 4-2 Dylan Emery
Gary Wilson 2-4 Ding Junhui
Muhammad Asif 0-4 Luca Brecel
Round of 16
Martin O’Donnell 4-2 He Guoqiang
John Higgins 4-1 Oliver Lines
Judd Trump 4-2 Yuan Sijun
Ricky Walden 3-4 Matthew Selt
Ronnie O’Sullivan 2-4 Zhang Anda
Ali Carter 1-4 Zhou Yuelong
Liu Hongyu 4-3 Mark Williams
Ding Junhui 4-3 Luca Brecel
Martin O’Donnell 1-5 John Higgins
Judd Trump 5-1 Matthew Selt
Zhang Anda 5-4 Zhou Yuelong
Liu Hongyu 5-2 Ding Junhui
John Higgins 5-6 Judd Trump
Zhang Anda 6-2 Liu Hongyu
Judd Trump 9-7 Zhang Anda
Featured photo credit: WST