Luca Brecel remained on course for a third final within a fortnight as he knocked Shaun Murphy out of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
Brecel’s 4-2 victory was aided by a massive slice of misfortune for Murphy in the fourth frame when he potted a thin cut on the final black only for the cue ball to bounce off five cushions and go in-off.
That made the score 2-2 rather than 3-1 to former World Champion Murphy, and Belgium’s rising star Brecel took full advantage as he won the fifth frame then closed out victory in the next with a break of 52. He now meets Ding Junhui in the last 16. Match schedule
World number 28 Brecel, age 20, was denied the German Masters title by Martin Gould ten days ago then lost to Robin Hull in the Shoot Out final last Sunday.
“I feel good and happy,” said Brecel, who got to the semi-finals here in Cardiff last year. “I didn’t play too well but I got my chances and I took them. It becomes sort of a habit to win so in every match you step into you are in a good frame of mind. I think that helps.
“Shaun was very unlucky in the fourth frame, I was shocked and happy when I saw the white go in. It was an unbelievable pot from Shaun, I didn’t think he could pot the black. That was the turning point.”
Mark Selby top scored with 74 in a 4-2 win over Fergal O’Brien and now faces Mark Williams. “Playing Mark in his home tournament in Wales is always going to be a good crowd,” said world number one Selby. “It’s like playing Ronnie in London. I’m looking forward to it.”
Home favourite Williams impressed in a 4-2 win over Kurt Maflin, scoring breaks of 70, 82 and 76.
“In my first two games I was thinking about things too much and playing too slowly,” said Williams. “Today I went back to what I was as a youngster – as soon as I saw the shot I just pulled back the cue and hit it, and wherever the white finishes I’d go down and go and hit it again.
“Mark’s the number one player in the world and obviously it’ll be very difficult for me, but if I can get that kind of form going then I’m going to be a handful for him.”
Ding Junhui, chasing his first ranking title in two years, edged out Matthew Selt 4-3 with a top break of 126.
Neil Robertson came from 2-1 down to beat Anthony McGill 4-2, compiling runs of 61, 78, 56 and 79 in the last three frames.
Defending champion John Higgins made a 105 in a 4-1 win over Michael Georgiou. “I’m pleased to win because I was up at 6am this morning,” said Higgins. “My match was at 10.30am and I feel as if I need to be up for about three or four hours before a match. I was just reading books on my Kindle to wile away the time. I’m so tired now I’ll go back to sleep.”
Barry Hawkins came from 2-0 down to beat Mark Davis 4-2 while Martin Gould stayed on course for back-to-back ranking titles by beating Matthew Stevens 4-3 with a run of 107 in the deciding frame. Joe Perry top scored with 130 in a 4-2 win over Ken Doherty.