Indian Open: Quarter-Final Preview
Scottish duo John Higgins and Anthony McGill are the big names still in contention after the seeds were taken to the sword in the last 16 of the Indian Open on Friday. The quarter-finals will take place later today in Visakhapatnam, with four of the fancied competitors now gone by the wayside.
Higgins and McGill had few problems in overcoming Michael Holt and Hossein Vafaei Ayouri 4-1 respectively, with the top two seeds on course for a clash in the final on Saturday.
Defending champion McGill is putting up a sterling defence of the maiden ranking event crown he captured just over twelve months ago, while Higgins has grown in confidence as the tournament has progressed having come through a couple of early tough tests.
However, for Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham, Mark Allen, and Ricky Walden, the end of their adventure in the subcontinent unexpectedly came in the third round.
Murphy, the most in-form player at present, surprisingly fell to Elliot Slessor – one of an incredible four players who will be making their debut at the quarter-final stage of a ranking event.
Bingham succumbed in a decider to Mark King, who now has a wonderful chance to add to the Northern Ireland Open trophy he collected almost a year ago, while Allen was thoroughly dismantled by David Gilbert.
Walden, meanwhile, was downed 4-3 by Xu Si with compatriot Zhang Anda and Liam Highfield also advancing for a first career quarter-final berth.
Zhang, who ended veteran Ken Doherty’s run in a final frame shoot out, will take on the reigning champion and, interestingly, the head-to-head record appears to favour the 25 year-old.
In three previous meetings, Zhang has prevailed on two occasions, including at last year’s UK Championship in York.
Also in the top half of the draw will be King’s duel with fellow Englishman Slessor, with the pair having just met recently in the Paul Hunter Classic when the more experienced King triumphed 4-2.
The other two encounters represent first contests between the players as Gilbert plays Xu and Highfield meets tournament favourite Higgins.
With so many big name casualties earlier today, the winner’s cheque appears to be heading in the direction of the four-time world champion, but the short format has proven that nobody is a sure bet.
That said, Higgins could hardly have asked for a better opportunity to go on and land what would be a 29th ranking event success.
But it’ll be equally intriguing to see whether one of the newcomers can continue to upset the odds, or if Gilbert perhaps can finally fulfil his potential.