Shaun Murphy eased to a 6-1 win over Ricky Walden to set up a quarter-final with Mark King at the Betway UK Championship.
Murphy has had an excellent first half to the season, winning the Champion of Champions as well as reaching two other finals. And the world number six will be determined to go all the way to the £170,000 this week in York and add to the UK title he won in 2008.
Capitalising on mistakes from his opponent, Murphy needed just two hours to end the challenge of Walden, making breaks of 51, 55 and 114. He will now meet King on Friday evening.
“I’m delighted to get through but on another day that match could have been a lot closer,” said 35-year-old Murphy. “Ricky missed a couple that he wouldn’t have in matches earlier on in the week. It’s just up to me to try and take my chances.
“It was a good match although I lost control of that little white ball every now and then. We all want to play one visit snooker knocking lots of centuries in but sometimes the game just doesn’t go that way.
“It doesn’t get any easier. Mark King is a completely different animal now since winning in Northern Ireland last year. He knows how to win. I know he’s been working a lot with my coach Chris Henry on the mental side of the game and you can see the effect it’s hard on him. He doesn’t always get the plaudits he deserves.
“I would dearly love to win this title again but having already won it I suppose the pressure is not as strong as it could be.”
Asked why he thought so many of the top seeds have been knocked out of the tournament, Murphy replied: “Everyone’s so bloody good! The flat 128 draws aren’t new any more. The lower ranked players are all great snooker players. There are seven billion people in the world and we’ve got the best 128 snooker players here. These results may shock you but they don’t shock me.”
Martin Gould reached the quarter-finals in York for the second time in three years by beating China’s Xiao Guodong 6-4. Londoner Gould has been on an impressive run of form having reached the semi-finals of the International Championship and the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters.
Today’s win also gives Gould a boost in the race to the Masters though he must still win his next match against Ronnie O’Sullivan or Sunny Akani on Friday afternoon to have a chance of a spot at Alexandra Palace.
In a tight match today the first eight frames were shared, Gould making the highest break with an 82. The Englishman took the ninth with a run of 69 then made a calm 66 clearance in the tenth to secure victory.
“It was a weird game. Apart from the first frame where I made an 80 break and I had to draw on my battling qualities to get myself through,” said world number 18 Gould. “We both struggled a little bit. Sometimes you’ve got win ugly. It’s nice to be here in the quarters and hopefully I’ll still be here at the weekend.
“Apart from the Crucible, this is one of the best venues we’ve got and we’ve had good crowds here all week. If I do play Ronnie tomorrow the crowd will be 99% on his side. I’m going to try and enjoy myself because that’s when I play my best. You can’t discount Sunny though, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the crowd tonight.”