Scottish Open Quarter-Finals Preview

Eight players are still in contention in what is the penultimate ranking event of 2020.

A high-quality octet will assemble on Friday for the quarter-finals of the Scottish Open at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Three world champions and six proven ranking-event winners are still in the field after a taxing few days in the competition.

As usual in the Home Nations series, Thursday’s “moving day” resulted in two rounds being contested back-to-back.

Defending Scottish Open champion Mark Selby fought back from behind against Mark Joyce to win 4-2 in the last 32 before reaching the quarter-finals with a 4-1 victory against Lyu Haotian.

The former world number one will face Ricky Walden next, a player enjoying a resurgence in form this season following a lengthy period in the doldrums.

Back injuries significantly affected Walden’s performances in the last few years, so much so that he had dropped to as low as number 46 in the world rankings list.

However, signs of a return to the kind of form that saw him win three ranking events have been apparent during this term.

A whitewash of Zak Surety on Thursday was followed by a come-from-behind 4-3 success against Mark Allen in the last 16.

Should Walden overcome Selby, who he has an inferior head-to-head record against, he would reach the semi-finals of a tournament for the first time since 2016.

Meanwhile, the top half of the Scottish Open draw features another player who is rediscovering his old form.

Jamie Jones, who was relegated from the tour amid a match-fixing scandal that resulted in a one-year suspension for the Welshman, returned to the circuit via Q School in August.

The 32 year-old reached the fourth round of last week’s UK Championship and has gone one better in the latest competition following a succession of dramatic 4-3 victories over Matthew Stevens, Sam Craigie, and Eden Sharav.

Kyren Wilson will be a daunting challenge on Friday as the format increases slightly to the best of nine frames.

The Kettering cueist, who has beaten Jones six times from seven past meetings, similarly required every frame to oust Barry Hawkins in the last 16.

Elsewhere, the bottom section of the draw is loaded with star quality as Judd Trump, Ronnie O’Sullivan, and Ding Junhui eye up the £70,000 top prize.

The latter pair clash in a mouthwatering tie, while world number one Trump entertains China’s Li Hang.

Ding’s struggles against O’Sullivan have been well documented, but the three-time UK champion scored heavily in his whitewash defeat of Martin O’Donnell before fighting back strongly to deny Jamie O’Neill in the fourth round.

O’Sullivan has been struggling with tip issues this week, although he does possess a mental advantage against an opponent who too often seems to wilt when the going gets tough against him.

Trump’s relentless run in which he has reached the final of the last four ranking events on the calendar shows few signs of letting up.

The 31 year-old has seemingly already put the disappointment of his epic 10-9 reverse against Neil Robertson in Sunday’s UK Championship final behind him, with his target now to add the Scottish Open crown to the English and Northern Ireland Open titles he has already bagged this season.

Li’s 4-3 beating of Stuart Bingham meant that the Chinese competitor will qualify for next week’s World Grand Prix.

Indeed, the top 32 places for the upcoming ranking event are now guaranteed with all eight players in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Open assured of their spots from the one-year rankings list.

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