The last of the quarter finals at The Masters takes place on Friday evening when two former champions battle it out for a spot in the semi-final when Mark Allen goes up against Mark Selby in a tasty looking clash.
Both men came through against tricky opponents in the opening round. Allen needed a decider to see off John Higgins while Selby was much more comfortable against Robert Milkins but this looks set for a ding dong battle.
When you think of Mark Selby at The Masters you think of someone with a brilliant record here. That is understandable when you consider that he has won it three times but since he last won the title in 2013 he has made the final in 2014 but he hasn’t been past the quarter final since then so you wonder if that will weigh on his mind or whether it will act as inspiration to go out and do a real job here and end that bizarre record.
One thing we do know is if he plays as well as he did against Robert Milkins in the opening round then he is going to be very tough to stop. He scored really well in that match and that is always the sign of whether Selby is really playing well. We know he can still win when he isn’t scoring but when he is he becomes so much harder to stop. He cut a very confident and comfortable figure in his post-match interview too so you sense he is up for the battle here.
Mark Allen has already put his own poor run at The Masters to bed. Incredibly on arrival here this week he hadn’t won a single match in this tournament since he won it in 2018 which is crazy when you consider the amount of titles he has won in that time and how good a player he is. You couldn’t say he was anything like convincing against John Higgins in the first round but you would imagine the win will remove a lot of pressure on his shoulders and he might be able to free up here.
There is no doubt that Allen is going to need a significant improvement in this match if he is going to come through it in front. His scoring will certainly need to improve. We know he has the ability to hang in there and capitalise on the chances he is presented with but there are no guarantees that those opportunities will come along in this match. He also needs to start better too as it is hard to come from behind against Selby.
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These two men have met on 16 previous occasions and they are deadlocked at eight wins each. Allen has the edge on things on the frame count 97-94 so his wins have been slightly more comfortable. The Northern Irishman has also won four of their six quarter final meetings too which will give him some encouragement but Selby won their last meeting in the World Championship semi-final last season. They have met twice previously at The Masters with Selby winning in a deciding frame on both occasions. Allen has the overall advantage in their best of 11 meetings though. He has five wins to the three of Selby.
While history would suggest that Mark Allen has every chance here and could be value to win the match, the here and now would tell us otherwise. Allen hasn’t really played that well this season apart from at the Champion of Champions and even there he had to battle to find his form at times. He was very ordinary against John Higgins but was fortunate that after the interval the Scot fell apart. Prior to then, Allen hadn’t made a 30 break in four frames and I don’t see him grinding one out against Mark Selby.
If Selby doesn’t have a mental block with him not going past this stage in almost 10 years then I think he is the one to beat in this match. He has played well in the main all season and he scored very well and looked good in the balls in the win over Robert Milkins in the first round. It might be that someone playing well against him inspires Allen to perform but his record here since he won it isn’t exactly appetising. It looked to me like Allen was battling something in his game against Higgins and I expect Selby to expose it and ruthlessly dispose of him.
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