The quarter-finals come to an end at the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace in London…
RICKY WALDEN v RONNIE O’SULLIVAN
31 Age 38
11 Ranking 24
16 Centuries this season 28
3 Masters appearances 20
Quarter-finals 2014 Best Masters performance Winner 4 times
THE CASE FOR WALDEN
A big part of playing O’Sullivan is the intimidation factor, which certainly seemed to affect Robert Milkins in the first round. But Walden has no fear in playing him. He was unlucky not to beat the Rocket in their first meeting at the 2006 UK Championship, losing 9-8 after suffering a kick with a good chance to win, and then beat O’Sullivan 10-8 to win the 2008 Shanghai Masters, his first ranking title.
THE CASE FOR O’SULLIVAN
The four-times Masters champion has appeared focused and determine both on and off table at Alexandra Palace. This is a tournament which has all the attributes he loves: one table, the elite of the game and a big crowd roaring him on. It makes him tough to beat.
O’Sullivan, like anyone, cam feel pressure. This is what Walden needs to apply if he is to beat the world champion. If he starts as he did against Barry Hawkins, though, he could be swamped.
NEIL ROBERTSON v STEPHEN MAGUIRE
31 Age 32
1 Ranking 5
66 Centuries this season 14
9 Masters appearances 10
Winner 2012 Best Masters performance 3 semi-finals
THE CASE FOR ROBERTSON
The Australian struggled with the excessive heat in the arena during his first round win over Mark Allen but everyone knows how well he is playing in general, and he beat Maguire with great efficiency in the UK Championship quarter-finals just last month.
THE CASE FOR MAGUIRE
The Scot has made a conscious effort to change elements of his game, working hard over the New Year period. These were evident early on against Joe Perry, even if it did eventually become a scramble for the line.
Having made it through by the skin of his teeth, Robertson has the ability to move up a gear and will be confident of continuing his progress towards a third successive Ally Pally final.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.