Three days completed at the Evergrande China Championship and of the 15 top 16 players who started the week we are now down to just four following a string of upsets so far in Guangzhou.
Having seen the likes of Neil Robertson, Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham exit the tournament during the first couple of days, today (Friday) saw all of the world’s top six ranked players crash out at the last 32 stage on a memorable day of action.
For a round-up of all of the shocks and reaction from Scottish duo Alan McManus (a 5-0 winner against Ding Junhui in his home country) and Graeme Dott, who defeated Judd Trump during the evening session, check out World Snooker’s report here.
Next up for Dott will be a clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan, who came back from 2-0 down to David Gilbert today with breaks of 130 and 68 to run out a 5-3 winner. The five-time world champion is competing in his first ranking event of the season and will now face Dott tomorrow evening in a match of this length for the first time since the 2009 Shanghai Masters.
Elsewhere in this section of the draw, Mike Dunn reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time since the 2016 Players Championship with a deciding frame win against Allan Taylor, a break of 60 in the decider enough to clinch victory. Next up will be Belgium’s Luca Brecel who from 4-0 up against Marco Fu, made sure that there would be no repeat of the Hong Kong ace’s Crucible comeback against him earlier this year and closed out a 5-2 victory this evening.
China’s Li Hang will face Welsh opposition for the second match in a row after he followed up his opening round success against Neil Robertson with a 5-4 victory against Michael White. It was a topsy turvy match, Li making a fantastic start to lead 3-1 at the interval with breaks of 139, 133, 51 and 87, before White responded with 72 and 53 to draw level. Ultimately it was Li who would prevail in a deciding frame to set up an encounter with Matthew Stevens, who backed up a good win of his own against Mark Allen with a win against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh this evening, despite a tournament high break of 144 from the Thai player.
Completing the bottom half of the draw and Mark Williams and Tom Ford, two-time Crucible king Williams having whitewashed countryman Ryan Day in the last 32 while Ford defeated defending champion John Higgins for the first time in his career to progress.
In the top section meanwhile, Zhou Yuelong consolidated his top 32 status with a 5-4 victory against Mark Selby this morning and will face Martin Gould in the last 16 as he looks to continue his progress up the rankings. Slipping somewhat under the radar so far this tournament, Gould saw off Mark Joyce this morning with a top break of 72 to maintain his place in the draw.
Awaiting the winner will be either Shaun Murphy or Stephen Maguire, old foes who will meet in what on paper looks set to be one of the matches of the round. Maguire continued his improved form of late with a comfortable victory against 17-year-old Yan Bingtao today and needs one more win to break into the top 16 in the latest Masters Race, while Murphy only had to play one frame following the concession of Anthony Hamilton as a result of a neck injury.
Finally, Ali Carter will face Mark Davis in a full-ranking event for the first time since 2013, while veteran duo Fergal O’Brien and Alan McManus defy a combined age of 91 to meet in the last 16.