China Open 2011: Robertson Feels The Force

2009 winner Peter Ebdon today showed in defeating world champion Neil Robertson that he is ready to go all the way again, but his path does not get any easier with the likes of John Higgins, Ding Junhui and Mark Selby also progressing today…

Day Four Results:

Last 16
Peter Ebdon 5-1 Neil Robertson
Ding Junhui 5-2 Stephen Hendry
John Higgins 5-2 Ricky Walden
Shaun Murphy 5-4 Li Hang
Stephen Lee 5-2 Ryan Day
Ali Carter 5-3 Marcus Campbell
Mark Selby 5-1 Robert Milkins
Judd Trump 5-2 Mark Davis

Just as in 2010, Peter Ebdon today recorded a 5-1 win over Australian Neil Robertson at the last 16 stage in Beijing as he looks to rubber-stamp his position inside the top 16 and potentially win his second China Open title in three years.

From the off Neil did not quite look to be comfortable as Ebdon, as you might expect, kept things very tight and left Neil very little to go at. The first frame was not to be free-flowing, Peter eventually getting in with a mid-frame 33 before he soon doubled his lead with a break of 85 in the second. Further breaks of 64 and 42 put the 2002 world champion 4-0 up at the mid-session interval and although Neil did get his name on the scoreboard with 80 in frame five, Peter was to take the match in a scrappy sixth frame.

This is an excellent result for Peter who incredibly has now defeated Robertson at the last 16 stage of the last three ranking events in China dating back to this tournament last season. He is not nearly as consistent as he once was but occasionally Peter just seems to bring his A-game to a tournament when he does, he can cause problems for anybody.

Neil meanwhile sees his China hoodoo go on as he has still failed to register even a single quarter-final appearance in a ranking event there, but having lost at this stage and indeed by the same scoreline to Peter, perhaps it is a good omen for his Crucible prospects! We shall see.

Next up for Peter will be Judd Trump who defeated Mark Davis 5-2 this morning to reach his first quarter-final since the Grand Prix back in 2008. Having spurned several opportunities to do so recently, despite regularly qualifying for venues, perhaps this is a sign of Judd’s increased maturity and it will be interesting to see how he gets on against the experienced Ebdon.

Safely through though is the man who Ebdon beat in the final to win back in 2009, John Higgins. Falling 2-0 behind against Ricky Walden for a moment it appeared as though an upset might have been on the cards but with breaks of 107, 96, 65, 89 and 51, the Scot soon ensured that normal service was resumed. Other winners close to the top of the rankings were Ding Junhui and Mark Selby, who in the process all cut the gap to Mark Williams who is currently sitting on top of the list, but of course is already out of the tournament.

2005 world champion Shaun Murphy was also a winner today but not without a real scare as he had to fight back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to defeat local wildcard Li Hang this morning. Having already toppled two former world champions this week, Li made a confident start but as Shaun explained afterwards, the interval came at just the right time for him and allowed him to hit the reset button in the match. He will not able to get away with a poor start against John Higgins in the next round however…