Shanghai Masters: Last 16 Preview

With Thursday’s quarter-final line-up now confirmed, I take a look ahead towards the eight matches scheduled to be played tomorrow…

Heading the draw is a clash between Scotland’s Jamie Burnett and Liverpool’s Andrew Higginson, an interesting match-up that we are more accustomed to seeing square-off in a booth in Prestatyn rather than centre stage in Shanghai. That said, Andrew played well in the previous round to defeat Ryan Day and also saw off an in-form Alfie Burden to qualify, while Jamie was able to surprise a few people and end wildcard Tian Pengfei’s tournament. This is a tough match to call therefore, but if pressed I would plump for Higginson based largely on his stronger start to the season. Could easily go either way though.

The second match meanwhile sees Stephen Maguire take on Mark Davis, a player whom he has had a great deal of success against in the past, but whom is now almost a different player and is on the verge of moving into the top 16 for the first time in his career. As Mark proved when facing Ryan Day at the Crucible, another whom he had a poor head to head record against, he is capable of turning the tables now but given his quality and his form recently, I have to back Maguire here to progress. Maguire has not hit the heights of 2008/9 recently but I have a feeling that we will see something of a return to form by him this season. We shall see.

Next, Mark Williams against Graeme Dott in what is a mouthwatering clash between two recent ranking event winners in China. Both men in form, I expect this one to go all the way but am going to going against my natural instinct on this one and back Graeme to cause a minor surprise and come through.

Rounding off the top quarter are Ding Junhui, a man who has not played too many matches recently and survived something of a scare today against Jin Long, and Jamie Cope who saw off Steve Davis to reach this stage. Taking that into account, Jamie has to be in with a decent chance of causing an upset here but Jamie has seemed to struggle to go beyond the last 16 of major tournaments recently and on home soil I expect Ding score heavily enough and consistently enough to come through.

Moving on to the bottom half, the clash between Ali Carter and Stuart Bingham is an interesting one, particularly given Stuart’s recent form both in this tournament and other smaller tournaments such as the Vienna Open during which he made a 147 break. Ali too has never really shone in the ranking events staged in China and there is a chance of an upset here. That said, there is a reason that Stuart has reached just four ranking event quarter-finals during his 15 year professional career and so I will back Ali to progress.

The next match between Shaun Murphy and Matthew Stevens sees a re-match of their 2005 World Championship final and a match that I can definitely see going all the way to a deciding frame. Murphy has struggled during the PTC events but then looked excellent during the Premier League recently, while Matthew has come out of the blocks quickly this season and is gunning for a place in the top 16 when the rankings are next revised. This is almost too close to call I think, but I will say 5-4 Murphy.

Mark Selby meanwhile is arguably the man who I regard as the best player of 2010 so far and although Martin Gould has himself performed well this season, I cannot back against Mark here.

And finally, Peter Ebdon to beat Mark King to keep his bid for a return to the top 16 on track at the bottom of the draw.

Apologies in advance to the eight players that I have just jinxed horribly!