Joe Perry won a pulsating clash with Neil Robertson 6-4 to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Coral Players Championship in Southport.
It’s a crucial victory for Perry, who now moves into 16th position in the world rankings as things stand. That puts him in line to edge Ali Carter out of an automatic World Championship spot, with the Captain projected to slip to 17th position.
Defeat for Robertson acts as a blow in his bid to claim the 2020 Coral Cup, which the Australian currently leads courtesy of his victory at the Coral World Grand Prix. The winner will be whoever accumulates the most prize money over the three-event Coral Series and they will also pick up a £100,000 bonus.
Despite a spectacular break of 140 from Robertson in the second frame, it was Perry who dominated the early stages today. Runs of 61, 66 and 68 helped him into a 5-1 advantage. Robertson then summoned his best snooker to stage a dramatic fightback.
World number two Robertson made breaks of 119, 127 and 84 to charge into contention at 5-4. The following frame was closely fought, but the pivotal point came when Robertson missed the final blue. That allowed Perry to clear to the black and snatch victory. Perry faces Yan Bingtao in the last eight, who defeated Kyren Wilson 6-2 this evening.
Perry said: “Pretty much all of the frames I lost, I couldn’t do anything about. Neil is just a big break making machine. He potted reds and made 100 breaks. There was nothing I could do about that, but on the whole I thought I was good and better than I have been in the last few tournaments.
“I just tried to keep myself positive and kept telling myself that the chance would come and to be ready for it when it did. I was ready for it and I took it really well but was a bit unlucky and didn’t get a cannon to finish in one visit. In the end it got a bit nervy and I had to rely on Neil missing a blue.”
John Higgins boosted his hopes of progression to the series finale at the Coral Tour Championship with a 6-2 win over fellow Scot Graeme Dott.
Higgins is currently in seventh position on the live one-year list and needs to remain in the top eight until after the Gibraltar Open to qualify for the elite Llandudno event.
Remarkably, today’s victory see’s four-time World Champion Higgins reach the 123rd ranking event quarter-final of his career.
Higgins had led 3-2 after a tense opening to this afternoon’s game. However, he took a stranglehold of proceedings by composing breaks of 84 and 60, before taking the eighth frame to secure the win.
Higgins said: “It was a big game there. Whoever won the game would be in a strong position to qualify for the Tour Championship heading into the last qualifying event at the Gibraltar Open. I am just pleased to get through. I will need to improve massively to get through again in the next round.”
Higgins now faces a mouth watering clash with World Champion Judd Trump. The Ace in the Pack secured his progression with a superb performance to see off last week’s Shoot Out champion Michael Holt 6-3.
Trump tops the one-year list after notching up four ranking titles this season and he produced some dazzling snooker this evening.
A break of 130 gave Trump the opening frame, before a sensational clearance of 64 saw him move 2-0 in front. They shared the next two frames to head into the mid-session with Trump leading 3-1.
When they returned Trump extended his lead with a break of 93. However, Holt refused to back down, compiling a stunning run of 128 to keep in touch at 4-2.
Trump moved one from victory, but Holt maintained his hopes of an upset with a brilliant clearance of 56 which made it 5-3. In the end Trump secured his win with a break of 76 to come through 6-3.