Home players have had little to cheer at the Welsh Open over the years but they are guaranteed one quarter-finalist this year and Mark Williams is favourite to also reach the last eight.
Matthew Stevens and Ryan Day each impressed yesterday. Stevens blew away Shaun Murphy 4-0, making his 200th career century in the process. Day kicked off with two centuries and went on to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2.
It was clear O’Sullivan was very rusty. He did make a century but there were shots he played that were indicators of someone not in the groove.
Not that Day cared and neither should he. He took the game to O’Sullivan and got his reward.
German Masters champion Williams coasted past Marco Fu 4-0 in the first round while his opponent today, Jamie Cope, struggled to put away Rory McLeod.
For Cope to rise further up the ranks he has to start beating the top players in big occasions such as this. Williams seems to be playing as well as he ever was, though, and that makes him very difficult to stop.
Stephen Maguire was mentored by Stephen Hendry as a teenager. This consisted largely of fishing out the balls for the seven times world champion but he will have learned a great deal and will be looking to apply all that when he faces Hendry today.
Hendry has played better in the last two events than he has all season. It may be subconscious, but perhaps the pressure of the world rankings has focused his mind. He always was reliable with his back to the wall.
It seems an age since Ding Junhui won his first match (it was Monday morning) but he finally gets another game today against Mark Allen, who beat him in the last 16 of the UK Championship earlier this season.
The last 16 featured 13 of the top 16. Already two members of the top eight have made the quarter-finals.
John Higgins looked determined and composed in beating Dave Harold 4-1; Mark Selby was still a little negative but put away Mark King 4-2.
Such is the quality of the field remaining that a case could be made for anyone of them to win the thing.