Judd Trump progressed to the 10th Home Nations quarter-final of his career with a commanding 4-1 defeat of Gary Wilson at the English Open.
Trump has made a stuttering start in Milton Keynes and would have breathed a huge sigh of relief when coming from 3-1 behind to beat Michael Holt in their last-32 clash earlier on Thursday.
However, he was razor sharp only a few hours later as he produced a stunning display to set up a meeting with old foe Kyren Wilson on Friday.
Trump was quickly into gear as he opened up with a break of 70 in frame one but Wilson looked in very good touch himself as he hit straight back with a fabulous total clearance of 124.
A typically swift run of 89 put Trump back in front but it was the subsequent fourth frame that would prove to be the decisive moment in the match, Wilson in first with 63 but unable to kill off the frame before Trump pounced in ruthless fashion, a nerveless clearance of 66 extending his lead to 3-1.
With his opponent still reeling in his chair, Trump duly wrapped up proceedings with a break of 76 that suggested he might once again be peaking just at the right time.
“It was nice to play well. Gary put me under a bit of pressure but I didn’t miss a lot,” Trump told World Snooker Tour, whose last title came at the Gibraltar Open in March. “I didn’t play well in my first three matches but I feel I’m playing my way into the tournament.
“The double I went for in the fourth frame, I don’t know if I would have played that if there had been a crowd there. I’m so relaxed out there I don’t really care, I just go for everything. It feels a bit like playing an exhibition. I’m sure some of the others are playing for their life, but for me it just feels like practising.”
Higgins too strong for Ding
John Higgins has looked in sublime touch all week and is another step closer to winning his first ranking event since 2018 after easing past Ding Junhui 4-1.
After the first two frames were shared, Higgins turned the screw with breaks 68 and 66 before stopping Ding in his tracks when the Chinese appeared certain to reduce his arrears to 3-2.
Ding had almost closed out the fifth frame when compiling a well-made 56 but when he left the door ajar for Higgins, the veteran produced a trademark clearance of 67 to book his place in the last eight.
Neil Robertson came through an entertaining match with Barry Hawkins, eventually prevailing 4-2.
Hawkins started the brighter by taking the first frame and appeared on course to win the second until splitting the pack perfectly from the blue, only to watch one of the reds roll into the bottom corner pocket.
That opening allowed Robertson to stamp his authority on the match, breaks of 90, 57 and 91 helping him move into a 3-1 lead, and though Hawkins rallied to win frame five, the Australian held his nerve to set up a last-eight meeting with Robbie Williams who earlier saw off Anthony McGill.
Kyren Wilson enjoyed a routine victory as he whitewashed Ben Woollaston 4-0 while Zhou Yuelong beat Andrew Higginson by the same score.
It was much harder work for defending champion Mark Selby, who for the second time on Thursday, came from 3-1 down to win, this time at the expense of Hossein Vafaei.