Richard Mann previews the final two quarter-finals of the Dafabet Masters, where Mark Selby and Judd Trump face off.
Recommended bets: Quarter-finals
Judd Trump's quest for a first Masters title began with a comfortable demolition of rival Kyren Wilson on Wednesday but he will find the going much tougher against world number one Mark Selby in Friday's quarter-final.
Trump knocked in breaks of 128, 58, 81 and 72 in his 6-2 defeat of Wilson, producing a polished display which underlined his growing maturity as well as giving us a stark reminder - if we needed it - that he is a joy to watch when in the balls.
One of the most pleasing aspects for Trump will have been how well he handled the occasion - a grudge match on the biggest stage - and his much-maligned temperament stood up really well under pressure, a stark contrast to Wilson who never settled in the face of such a high-profile clash.
Nevertheless, Trump will need to produce a similarly strong performance against Selby, who has hinted at a return to his peak form in recent weeks and was quite outstanding in beating Stephen Maguire in the first round.
Despite winning the China Championship earlier in the campaign, this season has been a largely frustrating one for the dual Masters winner but a final-frame semi-final loss to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Northern Ireland Open served notice that Selby was on the cusp of his very best again.
A subsequent early exit at the UK Championship appeared to have set Selby back somewhat but, as ever, he has worked hard on his game in the interim and his display against Maguire was breathtaking.
Barring a couple of scrappy frames that went the way of the Scot, Selby, in his own words, produced an 'almost faultless' performance with breaks of 115, 95, 125, 133 and 96, as well as he has played produced for some time.
His post-match interview was telling, with Selby acknowledging his recent struggles but also keen to emphasise that his hunger and dedication hasn't wavered.
Crucially, he spoke of how he was looking to go back to his more aggressive roots and trying to simply enjoy his snooker again, a mindset that Ronnie O'Sullivan has long advocated for the three-time world champion.
As we have seen time and time again, Selby's safety game is almost peerless and with Trump's tactical play often his weakest link, that is another reason to favour The Jester here, as is his superior head-to-head record in matches between the pair.
Having got the better of Trump in a recent Championship League encounter, Selby looks to have more than enough in his favour to suggest 10/11 is a fair price and I want to have him on side.
Resurgent Robertson and Hawkins to serve up a treat
Neil Robertson is another of snooker's elite who appears to have benefited from a post-Christmas spell in the Championship League and he is fancied to continue his strong form when he takes on Barry Hawkins in the last-eight.
Like Mark Selby, he is another world champion who is steadily returning to his very best following a quiet 12 months or so and he scored heavily in his comfortable defeat of Mark Williams in the first round.
Breaks of 54, 59, 102, 69 and 88 in that match showed Robertson to have his game in good working order and with Hawkins looking in good touch in his victory over Shaun Murphy - including a superb 124 break - there is every reason to expect more heavy scoring in this one.
Sky Bet are offering 2/1 for there to be three or more centuries in the match and that looks the way to go in a clash featuring two highly proficient and aggressive break-builders.