The Last 16 round concluded this afternoon at the Tempodrom and it yielded a quality line-up for the quarter finals to be played tonight:
Jimmy Robertson v Mark Williams
Ding Junhui v Judd Trump
Ryan Day v Shaun Murphy
Graeme Dott v Xiao Guodong
Jimmy Robertson has never been at this stage of any tournament before; to get here he had to beat Gary Wilson in a very tense match. He faces a difficult challenge now in Mark Williams who seems to be back near his best. Mark’s tactical game is among the very best and, to his own admission, Jimmy isn’t the best equipped in that department, but Jimmy is a very heavy scorer when in the balls. Mark will start favourite, of course, but the pressure is on him and if he can’t neutralise Jimmy’s potting power … who know?
Ding Junhui seems to be back, close to his best, but not quite there yet. Clearly the worst of his eyes issues are behind him but, yesterday night his long and mid range potting were not yet as reliable as they used to be. Ding capitalised on Ricky Walden’s error more than he created opportunities for himself. In the balls though he was deadly. Judd came on top of Joe Perry who is a hard match player. I didn’t see anything of the match but I would be surprised if Judd took against Joe the kind of liberties he took against Kyren Wilson at the Masters. If both play to their strengths this should be a very interesting match that will likely go the distance.
Ryan Day came out the winner by 5-4 over Mark Davis in what must have been a very high quality match. Since winning his first ranking title, Ryan looks a different player. Gone are the days where he crumbled under pressure on the biggest stages. Shaun beat Mark Joyce very comfortably and played very well in spells. However there were also uncharacteristic mistakes – some, really elementary ones – and if Shaun doesn’t cut those out against Ryan tonight, and offers his opponent several chances per frame, he will be punished. I favour Ryan in this one.
Graeme Dott was cruising at 4-1 but had to fight hard in the end to beat the unheralded Mei Xiwen in a deciding frame. Graeme is as hard as it comes and never gives up. He’s also badly under-rated by many. Never forget that he’s a World Champion, and over that format, nobody “flukes” a World title. Xia Guodong, who beat Mark Selby yesterday, took another top player scalp today as he outplayed Liang Wenbo. In fairness Liang has not been at his best this season, far from it in fact. But Xiao impressed me yesterday. I have no clue how this match will go and it’s a shame it won’t be streamed. It could be fascinating.
Liang’s defeat this afternoon means that he will definitely not be at the Grand Prix in Preston.