It is quarter final day at the Shanghai Masters on Thursday and we have eight top class players left in the tournament, each of whom is looking to book their spot in one of the two-session semi-finals over the next two days.
The afternoon session in Shanghai is particularly loaded but the evening one isn’t too shabby either so with the quality of four matches on the schedule we should be treated to the best day of snooker of the season so far.
The Class of 92 are given plenty of references these days and two of them will meet on the main table in the afternoon when the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan continues his title defence when he takes on old adversary John Higgins in the pick of the quarter finals. Over on the other table things will be pretty good as well as two players who are looking to get back to the top of the game collide when Judd Trump continues his bid to follow up his run to the final of the European Masters when he takes on a Mark Selby who has a good record in China which he is looking to enhance.
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The evening session is headlined by the world champion Luca Brecel, who is looking to win his first title of the season. The Belgian goes up against a fellow tournament winner from last season in the form of Robert Milkins with those two meeting on the main table. Over on the other table the one remaining Chinese player left in the draw will look to continue to carry the hopes of the home crowd as Fan Zhengyi, who took care of Mark Allen on Wednesday, will go up against Neil Robertson, the man who has already dumped one Chinese star out of the competition in Ding Junhui and will be looking to double his home victims here.
Whenever I watch Robert Milkins in these elite invitation events or the big events where only the best qualify he just looks like someone who feels like he doesn’t belong in them. He has never won a match at The Masters, the Champion of Champions or the Tour Championship and only won one match at the Players Championship and his World Championship record reads four match wins from 13 goes at The Crucible. While he has won a couple of matches this week, he hasn’t really done much to impress.
Milkins had a comfortable first round against the female wildcard Bai Yulu and then fell over the line against Shaun Murphy in the second one. That is in contrast to Luca Brecel who played really well in beating Mark Williams on Wednesday and who very much believes that he belongs on these stages. These two have only met twice and while it is 1-1, Brecel has kicked on over the last six months or so and Milkins doesn’t quite look near the form that took him to the Welsh Open title. Milkins has only been past the third round of a normal rules pre-Christmas ranking event once since the 2017 Northern Ireland Open so he doesn’t start seasons well and I think Brecel will put him out of his misery here.
Back L.Brecel (-1.5 frames) to beat R.Milkins for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill
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