Neil Robertson produced his best performance of the season to beat Stephen Maguire 6-1 in the last 16 of the Betway UK Championship.
Robertson won the Champion of Champions last month and is clearly in the mood to make it back-to-back titles and double his tally of UK crowns having lifted the trophy in 2013. He has now been made 15/8 favourite for the title by sponsor Betway.
The Australian’s scoring power was in evidence as he fired three centuries and finished the match with a 97 percent pot success rate. He now meets John Higgins or Jamie Burnett.
In fact it was Maguire, the 2004 UK Champion, who started the match on the front foot with a break of 118 to take the opening frame. But the Scot spent most of the remainder of the match in his chair as world number three Robertson compiled runs of 126, 76, 101, 55 and 113.
“That was definitely the best I have played this season, without a doubt” said world number three Robertson. “I played great but I knew I had to.
“It’s easy to say I’ll win the tournament playing like that but in the Masters last season I played a similar standard against Ali Carter and Ronnie O’Sullivan. But then I took my foot off the gas completely in the final and lost 10-2 to Shaun Murphy – I didn’t think I’d struggle that much.
“I’ve learned my lesson there – I need to maintain my focus and keep the foot down now.”
China’s Liang Wenbo set up an all-Asian quarter-final against Marco Fu by beating Tom Ford 6-5. From 2-0 down, Liang took the next two frames with breaks of 122 and 67 to draw level. Leicester’s Ford then regained the lead with an 86 and made a 58 clearance to go 4-2 up.
Liang pulled one back before Ford’s 93 made it 5-3. World number 29 Liang made an 88 to win frame nine and started the next with a 53. Ford had a chance to clear but missed a tricky black along the top cushion on 27, and his opponent forced the decider. Romford-based Liang was on 49 when he missed the pink to a centre pocket, but Ford could only pot one red before missing the pink himself, and that proved his last chance.
Liang, whose only ranking final came at the 2009 Shanghai Masters when he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan, said: “I’m very happy. Tom played well and made a very good clearance to go 4-2 up. There was a lot of pressure but I kept playing and did well. I really concentrated in the last three frames, my head was good. I’m looking forward to playing Marco, we are good friends and we both enjoy the game.”
A disappointed Ford said: “At 4-2 Liang went out of the arena, and after that he played so slowly that every time I got back to the table it felt as if I’d been off it for half an hour. He’s the most boring player I’ve played this season. I don’t mind being played off the table, but not bored off it.”