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The Masters Quarter-Finals Preview

January 13, 2010

The second round of the Masters ended tonight with Ryan Day claiming a 6-0 victory over Joe Perry at Wembley Arena. The quarter finals begin tomorrow and, with one notable exception, the best players in the world are competing for £150,000 prize money – perhaps an adequate compensation for the tournament not being a ranking event.

The quarter finals:

Hopefully O'Sullivan will enjoy his clash with Ebdon more than his first-round match - eurosport

Peter Ebdon v Ronnie O’Sullivan

It shows the quality of the last 8 when Peter Ebdon is the rank outsider to win the competition. The quality of his quarter-final opponent must be taken into account of course, and there are none better than reigning champion O’Sullivan. The world number one was at pains once again to express his disinterest in the sport after his
6-4 defeat of Neil Robertson on Tuesday. He came from 3-0 down to triumph with some superb breakbuilding, his stock in trade.

Ebdon combined breakbuilding with good safety play as he recovered from 2-0 down to Marcu Fu, reeling off six straight frames.

The two had a classic match in the 2005 World Championship, best remembered for Ebdon frustrating his opponent when taking his time over shots – amusingly taking five minutes to compile a break of 12. He won the match 13-11. In this shorter match (first to 6) the victor is difficult to call – the world number one should beat world number 14, though Ebdon undoubtedly has the game to win if The Rocket has an off-day.

Videprinter prediction: O’Sullivan to win 6-3.

Shaun Murphy plays Mark Williams on Thursday evening

Mark Williams v Shaun Murphy

Mark Williams’ rise back up the rankings has been good to see. The former world number one took over two years to claim a ranking title after his second World Championship win in 2003, as he fell well outside the top 16 and struggled to qualify for events. He is back at number 15 now though, and won his first two matches comfortably, knocking out Ali Carter in the process.

Shaun Murphy should be a tougher proposition though. The world number 3 is in good form – last year’s Premier League champion beat Stephen Hendry 6-4 in the last round and in May will hope to regain the World Championship crown he won in 2005, after losing in the 2009 final to John Higgins.

Videprinter prediction: Williams to win 6-5.

Stephen Maguire will be playing to earn his second Masters semi-final appearance

Stephen Maguire v Ryan Day

Maguire is yet to fulfil his undoubted potential. Despite winning four ranking titles, the 28-year-old has fallen short at the last few World Championships; his performances in other tournaments, though, has helped him to world number 2. Though not a ranking event, a win at the Masters would be a big achievement with the strong field.

He has to beat Ryan Day in the quarters: by beating Perry, Day inflicted the only whitewash of the tournament so far. Though he is yet to win a ranking title, he has moved up to world number 6 and breaks may now last long in a match between these two big scorers.

Videprinter prediction: Maguire to win 6-4.

Will Mark Allen continue his good form against Mark Selby?

Mark Selby v Mark Allen

Allen produced the biggest surprise of the tournament so far with a 6-3 win over John Higgins earlier today. Higgins tends to exit the Masters early, but he was seriously off-colour against the young left-hander and world number 11, who made his name in last year’s world championship: making the semi-finals with wins over O’Sullivan and Ryan Day. Performances like that saw him move up six places coming into this season.

On Friday the left-hander faces Mark Selby, or The Jester from Leicester as the new Barry Hearn-inspired tour will know him. Selby won this event in 2008 and lost in the final to O’Sullivan last year. Like all of the quarter-finals, this one is tough to call, particularly over only 11 frames.

Videprinter prediction: Selby to win 6-3.

The Videprinter has stuck its neck on the line once again – despite a shaky start to those predictions made for the African Cup of Nations in Angola.

But who do you think will advance to Saturday’s semi-finals?

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