Dafabet Masters 2017: Down to Eight
Four days completed at the 2017 Dafabet Masters and the quarter-final line-up at the Alexandra Palace is now set.
Expectations for the tournament were high, with each of the 16 players having won at least one ranking title previously for the first time in history and so far the event has not disappointed, with four matches requiring a deciding frame and 17 century breaks compiled already.
Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was first in action back on Sunday afternoon and survived a real scare from Liang Wenbo (who missed a black ball for the match leading 5-4), to edge through with a break of 121 in the final frame.
Next up will be a mouthwatering clash with 2012 Masters winner Neil Robertson, a match that it is difficult to believe will take place as early as the quarter-finals as a result of Robertson dropping down the rankings slightly in recent months. The Australian progressed with a 6-3 victory against Ali Carter, an opponent for whom he often appears to reserve some of his best performances, a fact not lost upon the Captain during his post-match press conference.
Perhaps surprisingly, O’Sullivan and Robertson have met relatively few times in competition previously, however it was the Rocket who was able to win both of their contests in 2016, notably winning 6-0 at the semi-finals of Romania’s European Masters last October.
Elsewhere in the top half, Scottish Open champion Marco Fu awaits following another impressive victory against Judd Trump, having come back from 3-0 down to win in a decider. He will face Mark Allen, who completed a hat-trick of Masters victories against John Higgins, also in a deciding frame following an absorbing match. Interestingly it will be the first encounter between the pair in nearly four years, Fu having come out on top at the 2013 Welsh Open.
In the bottom half of the draw Ding Junhui will face Joe Perry in a repeat of their first round clash at the Alexandra Palace back in 2015. Despite a relatively poor overall head to head record against the Chinese number one, it is Perry who has come out on top of their previous two meetings, most recently on his way to the title at the 2015 Players Championship. Both players looked strong during their opening round wins against Kyren Wilson and Stuart Bingham respectively and it is difficult to call a winner.
Completing the line up are Barry Hawkins and Mark Selby, who today came through against Shaun Murphy and Mark Williams in contrasting fashion. For Hawkins, a surprisingly comfortable 6-1 success against the 2015 Masters champion, while Selby had to come through a thriller against two-time former Master Mark Williams in a deciding frame. Remarkably, it is the 12th final frame win for Selby in 13 attempts and 11th 6-5 victory since his debut back in 2008.
The action continues tomorrow live on the BBC and British Eurosport.