A SUPERB final clearance under immense pressure helped John Higgins move into the China Open quarter-finals following a thrilling win over Judd Trump.
In what was a rematch of the 2011 World Championship final, Trump came from 4-2 down to level the match at 4-4 and force a final frame decider.
Trump then thought he completed a wonderful comeback victory with a break of 59 in the all important ninth frame but Higgins fought back with brilliant pots on the yellow and green which set up his victory.
Higgins, who won this season’s Welsh Open earlier this year, is now just three more wins away from winning the China Open for the first time since it was known as the China International in 1999.
The four-times world champion will next face defending champion Ding Junhui who continued his resurgence of form following a bad run of results after beating Mark Williams 5-2.
China’s number one star, who is yet to win a major this season, made breaks of 68 and 103 against the Welshman to progress into the last eight stage.
At the bottom of half draw reigning world champion Mark Selby saw off David Gilbert with a 5-2 victory.
Selby, who has been a China Open runner-up twice in recent years, will next meet Gloucester’s Robert Milkins who thumped Michael White 5-1. Milkins must reach the final of the China Open if he is to guarantee himself a top 16 automatic spot at the Crucible.
Masters champion Shaun Murphy hit a break of 143 – the highest of the tournament so far – en route to a 5-3 win over Jamie Jones. The win for Murphy made for sweet revenge for his shock World Championship first round exit to the Welshman several years ago.
Murphy, enjoying one of his best seasons of his career, will next face Norwegian Kurt Maflin who stroll into the quarter-finals with a 5-1 win over Robin Hull. This is the world number 44’s highest run in a major ranking event not including his Players Championship semi-final appearance in 2013.
World number 56 Gary Wilson continued his run of fine form with a 5-1 win over Dechawat Poomjaeng – a win which secured his second run to the quarter-finals of a major event in recent months following his run in the Welsh Open.
The 29-year-old will look to make the semi-finals by beating former World Championship finalist Barry Hawkins who beat Stephen Maguire 5-3.
China Open Quarter-Finals
Ding JUNHUI vs John HIGGINS
Barry HAWKINS vs Gary WILSON
Kurt MAFLIN vs Shaun MURPHY
Robert MILKINS vs Mark SELBY