FORMER Rotherham-based world champion Shaun Murphy held off a fightback by Martin Gould to win 6-4 and set-up a quarter-final meeting with Ricky Walden in the UK Championships in York.
The 2005 world champion was in stunning form in the first half of the match, threatening to whitewash Gould as he raced into a 5-0 lead with breaks of 86 and 102.
Gould, the recent Power Snooker winner, galvanised himself with a total clearance of 133 in the sixth frame, though, and then went on to take the next three, two of which were scrappy but one which saw him register a second century with a polished 101.
But Murphy hung on and emerged from a marathon 10th frame with the win, holding his nerve in a safety encounter that centred around the yellow.
Walden had a surprise win over Mark Williams and now hopes his resurgence can continue.
The 29-year-old announced himself on the snooker scene when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the Shanghai Masters in 2008 but success has been thin on the ground since.
His recent form has been impressive, though – he made a 147 in the PTC event in Sheffield and he also shone while easing past Stephen Lee in round one.
“I knew I was playing well. He (Williams) scrapped a few frames out and I knew how good he was,” said Walden.
“I trusted my game and got my chance. It’s been difficult (since China), I expected myself to kick on and win a few more, but it doesn’t always work like that. I’ve not had a good run in the TV tournaments, so it’s good to come on against a brilliant player like Mark.”
Mark Allen put his dispute with Barry Hearn to one side as he reached the quarter-finals with a comfortable 6-2 win over Ali Carter.
Allen, 25, was referred to the game’s governing body on Tuesday following a four-letter outburst against the World Snooker chairman.
Yet Allen refused to be distracted by the controversy as he breezed past a below-par Carter.
An assured break of 78 gave the Northern Irishman the first frame. Carter hit back by taking a scrappy second, despite initially breaking down on frame ball, but Allen swiftly re-established his advantage with a fluent 101 in frame three.
Things were starting to look ominous for the Englishman and breaks of 72 and 67 helped Allen clinch a tie with Marco Fu, who beat world No 1 Mark Selby 6-3.