Ronnie O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy became the first two players to reach the quarter-finals of the Betway UK Championship as they both recorded 6-2 victories at the York Barbican on Wednesday afternoon.
O’Sullivan saw off Matthew Stevens and has now lost just three frames in his four matches so far. The Rocket is chasing his sixth UK title and first piece of silverware since the Welsh Open last February, and in current form looks hard to stop.
He opened today with a break of 101, his sixth century of the tournament. Stevens levelled with a run of 74, and had chances in frame three but O’Sullivan took it by clearing from green to black. World number eight O’Sullivan then pulled away to lead 5-1 with top runs of 51 and 54. He had a chance to close out the match in frame seven but missed the final green when leading 42-37, allowing Welshman Stevens to pull one back. But it mattered little as O’Sullivan sealed the result in the next in three scoring visits.
“Matthew made it tough for me today,” said O’Sullivan. “He’s got that pedigree and that presence where at any minute he could click into gear and dominate the table. The match was closer than the scoreline suggested.”
Murphy ended the challenge of Chinese teenager Zhou Yuelong. After taking the first two frames with a top break of 79, Murphy was hauled back to 2-2 by his promising opponent. But 2008 UK Champion Murphy stamped his authority on the contest after the interval and won four in a row by firing runs of 96, 110, 80 and 79.
“After the interval we had a new set of balls out there which completely changed the way the game went,” said world number six Murphy. “When the balls go where they’re meant to go you get good games. I’m very pleased with how I managed to get through and improve on the way I played yesterday.”
Friday’s Quarter-final line-up:
Luca Brecel or Stephen Maguire v Shaun Murphy
John Higgins or Mark Allen v Zhang Anda or Mark Selby
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Williams or Liam Highfield
Jamie Jones or David Gilbert v Marco Fu or Oliver Lines