Judd Trump against Barry Hawkins will be the showpiece clash in the quarter-finals of the Coral Welsh Open in Cardiff on Friday.
Friday’s line up: 12pm Zhou Yuelong v Scott Donaldson Not before 2pm Judd Trump v Barry Hawkins 7pm Stuart Carrington v Stuart Bingham Kurt Maflin v Robert Milkins
Trump has never reached the final of the Welsh Open
Trump has been in commanding form at the Motorpoint Arena so far this week, conceding just four frames in four matches. He is now just three wins away from capturing two ranking titles in the same season for the first time in his career.
The Bristolian saw off schoolboy sensation Jackson Page earlier today (read more on that story here) then beat Iran’s Hossein Vafaei 4-1 in the last 16 to reach his sixth ranking quarter-final of the season.
Breaks of 56, 84 and 72 helped the 27-year-old to a comfortable win over Vafaei.
“Whoever wins out of me and Barry will be a strong favourite to go on and win it,” said world number four Trump. “Though the way snooker is at the moment, anyone can win it.
“Barry is a solid player, he is similar to Mark Selby. He is always improving, he is good to watch. You want to play the big names in the latter stages, but I know this is a massive game. There is added pressure for both of us, as we both want to win it so bad and win another ranking event.”
Hawkins has won nine matches in a row over the last ten days
In-form Hawkins is aiming to win back to back ranking titles having lifted the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix trophy last Sunday, and he has lost just two frames in his four matches in Cardiff. He saw off Craig Steadman 4-0 tonight with top runs of 101 and 100.
“Things are going right for me at the moment and I am playing well,” said the Hawk. “Dropping two frames in four matches is good going. I’m in the latter stages of a big tournament again so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
“Consistency wise it is the best season I have had. I won’t get overly confident, though, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.”
World number two Stuart Bingham is the highest ranked player left in the field, in fact along with Trump and Hawkins he’s the only player left among the world’s top 30. And none of the last eight players have won the Welsh Open title before.
Basildon’s Bingham beat Robbie Williams 4-0. He won a tight 39-minute opening frame on the final black, and went on to take the next three with a top break of 55.
“The first frame could have gone either way, if I had lost that it might have been different,” said the 2015 World Champion. “My safety is keeping me in matches. I’m making mistakes in my scoring, but I’m getting there.”
Bingham will now face another Stuart – Carrington – as the Grimbsy cueman reached his first ranking event quarter-final by beating Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo 4-1 with a top break of 56.
Zhou, 19, has been tipped for the top
Two other players reached the last eight of a ranking event for the first time – and will go head to head for the chance to go one step further. China’s gifted Zhou Yuelong beat Lee Walker – the last remaining Welshman in the field – by a 4-0 scoreline with top breaks of 75 and 57.
He now meets Scott Donaldson, who edged out Mark Davis 4-3. Donaldson trailed three times but recovered from 3-2 down to win the last two frames.
“It feels fantastic, it’s a milestone in my career,” said 22-year-old Perth potter Donaldson. “It wasn’t a great game but I won. Zhou has kicked on since he came over the the UK. I’ll have my work cut out. I’ll play my own game and play the balls and try my best.”
Norway’s Kurt Maflin booked his quarter-final spot with a 4-1 win over another up and coming Chinese cueman, Yan Bingtao. Maflin raced out of the blocks with breaks of 116, 86 and 88. Yan pulled one back with a 136 but Maflin clinched the tie in frame five.
He’ll take on Gloucester’s Rob Milkins, who beat China’s Mei Xiwen 4-2 despite a top break of just 38.