It’s fair to say things didn’t go as hoped for tournament organisers in Bendigo who were holding out for a Neil Robertson v Ding Junhui final in the Australian Goldfields Open.
Ding lost a 5-4 marathon to Peter Ebdon while Robertson, the home favourite, lost 5-1 to Mark Davis.
Robertson came out flying, making an 88 break in the opening frame. He was nicely in on 39 in the second when he suffered a violent kick on the black.
From there, the match turned. Davis grew in confidence and uncertainty bedevilled Robertson.
Full credit must go to Davis, who is now playing the best snooker of his career at the age of 39, when most players are in decline.
He now plays Martin Gould, appearing in his first ranking event quarter-final since the 2011 PTC Grand Finals.
Gould does not seem to have adjusted well to life in the elite top 16, perhaps now looking over his shoulder rather than straight ahead.
But a tense win over Cao Yupeng in the decider has given him every chance of progressing from the top half of the draw.
The other quarter-final in this half pits Barry Hawkins against Matt Selt.
It was in Bendigo where Selt reached his first ranking tournament quarter-final 12 months ago. He has now reached his second. His own brutally honest assessment is that he hasn’t played well yet, but he will have played better and lost so he should just take it.
The newly married Hawkins is one of those players long capable of winning a major tournament without ever quite having done so. He did win the Shootout last season, which was high profile but does not carry the prestige of a ranking title.
All four players in the top half must surely be fancying their chances. Davis is probably favourite on current form but it remains wide open.
In the other half, Shaun Murphy is the next to experience the ‘Force’ that is the redoubtable Ebdon.
Murphy is a patient sort. Even if things get dragged out, he is capable of scoring heavily and even Ebdon can’t slow him down from his chair.
Stephen Lee faces Marco Fu, wildly inconsistent but, it would seem, playing well this week.
These two played in the final of the 1998 Grand Prix at Preston. Lee’s performance that day was sensational. He made two centuries and eight half centuries to win 9-2.
Here we are 14 years later and he will start favourite again, although Fu is a player who you feel is never far away from delivering a really high quality performance.