Australian Goldfields Open 2013: Stage Set For Quarter-Finals

Four days down in Bendigo and the line-up for the quarter-finals of the 2013 Australian Goldfields Open was confirmed earlier, as Shaun Murphy became the highest seeded player to exit the tournament so far…

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Armed with a new cue coming into the event, Shaun Murphy had been tipped by some to end a trophy drought dating back to the 2011 Brazilian Masters this week, but found himself on the wrong end of a terrific performance from Hong Kong’s Marco Fu today.

It was Murphy who started the stronger, an opening frame break of 92 seeing him on the way to a 2-0 lead, but back came Fu with runs of 80, 61, 70, 41 and finally 115 to record a 5-2 victory and book his place in the last eight.

A semi-finalist at the even in 2012, Marco appears to like playing in Australia and will now meet Dominic Dale in the next round, after the Welshman came through yesterday against Fergal O’Brien with a top run of 84.

Elsewhere in the top half of the draw, Tom Ford sent defending champion Barry Hawkins out of the tournament with a 5-4 victory, which saw the Leicester man win three of the last four frames. The decider proved to be a nervy affair, containing eight foul shots between the two players, but eventually it was Ford who sunk the final colours to win.

Next up for him will be Robert Milkins, after the in-form Gloucester man scored heavily on his way to a 5-2 victory against Rory McLeod, notwithstanding a tournament high break of 137 from McLeod in the fifth frame.

His fifth appearance in a full-ranking event quarter-final or better since the 2012 Haikou World Open, the run sees Milkins up to 13th place in the latest projected seedings, a clear and well-deserved career high given that level of consistency.

In the other half of the draw, Mark Selby produced a much-improved performance today to defeat Zhang Anda, the last Chinese player left in the tournament. With a break of at least 69 in each of the first four frames, Selby would have defeated most players in the world in that form and will now meet Mark Davis in the quarter-finals, after he ended the run of qualifier Alfie Burden.

As well as defending champion Barry Hawkins, the day also saw 2011 winner Stuart Bingham exit the tournament, following a 5-3 defeat to AT1 winner Joe Perry. Playing as well as he has for a few years, Perry is clearly full of confidence at the moment and will need it against world number one and Wuxi Classic champion Neil Robertson in the next round, after the home favourite saw off Jamie Cope yesterday evening.

The action, as ever, continues tomorrow…