All 4 Betway UK Championship quarter-finals happen on Friday at York’s Barbican Centre and because the match enters the enterprise finish of the occasion there seems to be one thing for everybody within the area.
The afternoon matches see world No1 and reigning world champion Mark Selby tackle the in-form John Higgins – and one other former UK winner in Shaun Murphy face younger Belgian prospect Luca Brecel.
Higgins doesn’t have to fret in regards to the Christmas purchasing this yr having gained about £360,000 within the final month alone, after large wins on the China Championship and the Champion of Champions.
He’s searching for a fourth UK title and a twenty ninth rating title in all, one that might put him clear in second place behind solely Stephen Hendry and one forward of Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan. Higgins, as Hendry has mentioned in commentary this week, is likely one of the gamers not afraid of successful titles in fast succession and has acknowledged he plans to experience the wave so long as it lasts.
Selby will in fact present a significant street block to these ambitions. No1 now for an unbelievable 94 weeks beneath a fluid and rolling system, it’s exhausting to see how he will be knocked off the highest earlier than February’s two-year mark, and if he wins a second UK title it seems nearly assured till the World Championship at then Crucible. Whoever wins this one will know they’ve a fantastic likelihood of one other title.
In the meantime alongside them the 2008 UK winner Murphy will tackle Brecel, whose finest run up to now got here on this yr’s German Masters on the Tempodrom in Berlin when he reached the ultimate, solely to lose to Martin Gould.
Two conferences between the pair spring immediately to thoughts. There was a quarter-final right here in 2012, when Brecel, simply 17, actually ought to have gained earlier than taking place 6-5. He claims he’s a greater participant and extra rounded particular person now – and a latest 4-0 win over Murphy in Northern Eire, when the senior participant was blown away and managed simply eight factors in whole, was a critical warning.
There may be certain to be a cracking ambiance within the night for the O’Sullivan v Mark Williams match, together with Higgins the opposite two of the well-known class of 1992 of their twenty fifth seasons as professionals nonetheless typically exhibiting the children how it’s executed.
Williams has gained the UK twice, however the final of these got here 14 years in the past, and he has not gained a rating title so as to add to the 18 within the bag of any kind for nearly six years. At one stage Williams had not overwhelmed O’Sullivan, so typically his nemesis, in a rating match for 12 years though that sequence was ended on the Worldwide Championship in 2014.
That they had a fantastic match on the Masters this yr, gained 6-5 by O’Sullivan, who’s but to win a title this season after shedding finals in Romania and Coventry. O’Sullivan has made some headlines this week and never only for dropping solely three frames so far in 4 matches, however you would need to make him a powerful favorite and Williams must play significantly better than in opposition to Liam Highfield to have a practical likelihood of victory.
Marco Fu, who performs Wales’s Jamie Jones, stays within the high 16, extra by dint of a Crucible semi-final this yr than something he has executed this season. The Hong Kong participant stays one thing of an enigma, his undoubted class and pedigree compromised by an enormous hole between his finest and his worst.
However this can be a good draw for each of them, with Jones, who emphatically knocked out Ding Junhui right here, not absolutely kicking on from his nice run to the quarters of the worlds a number of years again. The 28-year-old is a fan of scorching yoga, strategies championed by the likes of Andy Murray and Ryan Giggs. It’s a stretch to suppose both of those will elevate the trophy, however a semi-final place could be very a lot inside their vary.