Again a complete round was played yesterday in Cardiff, this time the last 16, with two notable casualties: John Higgins, the defending champion, and Judd Trump.
The Welsh players had mixed fortunes, with Mark Williams going out to Mark Selby, and Michael White getting one of the best wins of his career by sending the defending champion John Higgins home.
So it’s now quarter finals time, and best of 9.
Ding Junhui seems to be over a long period of bad form and is still in the tournament, he will face Neil Robertson today. Mark Selby, the world n°1, will take on Ronnie, who beat him in the Masters in January. No doubt they both will be up for the battle.
Ben Woollaston, finalist last year is still there as well, facing Joe Perry, Judd Trump’s conqueror. Finally, Mark Allen will play Michael White … and the crowd probably.
Hector Nunns on inside snooker reflects on Michael White’s win and the day ahead:
Michael White is the man Wales is looking to on Friday to continue his run at the BetVictor Welsh Open and become the first Welshman to win the title for 17 years.
Not since Mark Williams lifted the trophy in 1999 has there been a home winner of a tournament that was for many years staged in Newport.
But the 24-year-old White’s impressive 4-1 win over defending champion John Higgins, with three ranking titles in the past 12 months, kept that possibility alive.
White is of course no longer a ‘prospect’ or ‘hope for the future’. Blessed with attacking instincts and a fine potting game the world No17 has already won one ranking event, the Indian Open in Mumbai last year.
Ronnie O’Sullivan had some very glowing things to say about him on Thursday, noting that White had all the attributes you would want to see in a world champion in the making.
White, of course, was very unlucky not to qualify as of right for the Crucible last year, finishing as world No16 but pitched into three brutal qualifiers as a result of Ali Carter’s ranking being frozen after his health battles.
While this was the correct decision, Sheffield was the poorer for not having an in-form White present. No one can guarantee coming through those three qualifiers now, and he lasted only one before losing to Craig Streadman.
However he will have a grand stage to play on Friday night against Mark Allen, who edged past Barry Hawkins 4-3.
White said: “Beating John was a fantastic win for me, up there with one of the best of my career. For some reason I was very laid back ahead of the match, and I think it showed.
“A lot of it is mental and I have the confidence at the moment, I am very focused and positive. I stayed with John, as you have to, and my safety has really improved.
“To get a victory like that here at home in Wales is special, my phone was going berserk even before this. My mum and friends had come up to watch today, they are over the moon.
“It is good for Wales and good for the tournament, and it would be great to get a Welshman in the final. There has been no home winner since 1999 I think, Mark Williams.
“I know Ronnie O’Sullivan has said some nice things about me, that means a lot from someone of his calibre – I didn’t know he had ever watched me!
“I also need to make sure I am in the top 16 at the start of April for the Crucible that will be one goal achieved, and I am well on the way.”
Higgins was not the only big gun to fall by the wayside, with Judd Trump going down to Joe Perry.
The marquee game will be three-time winner O’Sullivan against world No1 Mark Selby in the afternoon, but Neil Robertson up against Ding Junhui, finally finding some form, isn’t far behind.
Perry and last year’s runner-up Ben Woollaston, who clearly has taken a shine to Cardiff and this venue, go into their match knowing it could have been a lot worse on paper.
All the results and statistics are available on cuetracker.net . Thank you Ron Florax.