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Maguire Ends Milkins’ Cheltenham Hopes

Robert Milkins saw his chances of qualifying for next week’s Coral World Grand Prix ended by a 5-1 defeat against Stephen Maguire at the German Masters.

Victory for Milkins in Berlin tonight would have catapulted him into the top 32 of the one-year ranking list, potentially earning him a spot in Cheltenham next week. But as it stands Gary Wilson hangs on to 32nd spot, although he could still be ousted by Duane Jones. For the latest on that race click here.

Maguire fired breaks of 81 and 82 as he sent Milkins home and set up a quarter-final against Judd Trump at the Tempodrom.

“I’m happy with my results here though I can still improve,” said Glasgow’s Maguire. “I knew Robert needed to win tonight to get into the event next week and I was glad because if I was in that position I’d feel extra pressure. It gave me a bit of extra confidence knowing he needed to win.

“I’m practising hard and my back is fine at the moment,” added Maguire, who has suffered from sciatica in recent months. “It went again last week and I panicked. I went to get some treatment on Saturday night which did wonders so I feel great now. I just hope it lasts for the next three months until the end of the World Championship.

“Judd Trump is the man in form, he has played well all season and I don’t think many people were surprised when he won the Masters. He has given me a few bashings over the last couple of years so I’ll need to step it up. Against the top boys I’m not scoring heavily enough. It’s a big step up there and I’m on the threshold just below them. It’s up to me to try to improve.”

Masters champion Trump remained on a roll as he saw off Yan Bingtao 5-1 with top breaks of 50, 57, 113 and 93. Trump is aiming to win his third title within three months, having also landed the Northern Ireland Open in November, but he does not feel he is ready to dominate the sport.

“It’s virtually impossible to dominate now, you’d have to take the game to a standard no one has ever seen before,” said the 29-year-old. “For me it’s just about going at my own pace. If I can win another two titles before the end of the season that would be amazing. But I’m not setting my sights too high, I’ll just keep trying to enjoy it. I’m very relaxed at the moment and that shows in the way I’m playing.”

Peter Ebdon had a chance of qualifying for Cheltenham with a deep run this week, but he lost 5-2 to Kyren Wilson, whose top breaks were 92 and 117. Wilson now plays defending champion Mark Williams, who top scored with 63 in a 5-0 whitewash of Joe Perry.

All pictures by O.Behrendt / contrast