Just five of the world’s top 16 players remain in the field at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open, and both Shaun Murphy and Jack Lisowski look like title contenders after emphatic wins on Wednesday night.
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World number seven Murphy, the highest ranked player left in Belfast other than Judd Trump, eased to a 4-0 success against Sean O’Sullivan with top breaks of 80 and 70. He meets Chris Wakelin in round four on Thursday afternoon.
“We both played to a very high level tonight,” said 12-time ranking event winner Murphy. “The Home Nations events are not always won by the favourites. They have the essence of surprise because they are best of seven frames. It’s all about who has the right attitude, it’s great to see these opportunities for all the players.”
If Murphy and Stan Moody both win tomorrow then they will clash in the quarter-finals on Friday, and the former World Champion is pleased to see his young protégé showcasing his talent this week. “It’s fabulous to see the next group of players coming through,” said Murphy. “I’m in camp Moody, I was asked by the family some time ago to get involved and help. I was delighted when he got his first win to qualify for this event and now he is on a run. The likes of Stan, Liam Pullen and others are the names for the future.”
Lisowski saw off Matthew Selt 4-1 with top runs of 55, 57 and 73, setting up a match with Aaron Hill. “I had a bit of luck tonight and I made a good clearance in the last frame when I got my chance to win,” said Lisowski. “The way I feather the cue ball is a bit different this week, I am trying to give myself more time on the shot.”
Northern Ireland’s hopes of a home winner ended with Jordan Brown’s 4-2 defeat against China’s Yuan Sijun, who fired breaks of 100, 97 and 77. Stephen Maguire top scored with 73 in a 4-2 win over Sam Craigie, while Ricky Walden beat Stuart Bingham 4-1 with a high score of 102.