WORLD No1 Neil Robertson set up a Wednesday clash with home favourite Mark Williams at the BetVictor Welsh Open.
The Australian knocked in his 87th century of the season at the Newport Centre in a 4-0 win over Rory McLeod to close in on the ‘100 hundreds’.
And Robertson, 32, will have the crowd against him on Wednesday afternoon against the 38-year-old Williams – the last Welshman to win this title 15 years ago.
Both are also former world champions, with Robertson having claimed his first ranking tournament success in south Wales in 2007.
He said: “It was nice to get that century in the last frame, with a crazy plant. Ideally I would be on 99 heading for the Crucible, but I won’t be sacrificing frames and matches to chase it.
“And if I get the chance to get it in China or anywhere else, I won’t be missing on purpose!
“Mark and I haven’t played too much recently but he will be really keen to do well, no Welshman has gone close in the past few years.
“I would much rather play in front of a full house and it will be a fantastic atmosphere, and that brings the best out of the top players.”
World No18 Williams also knocked in a century to seal a 4-0 win over Tian Pengfei.
He said: “It was 15 years ago I won this, the last Welshman to win the title – and that is far too long. We should be doing a lot better than that here.
“I couldn’t believe it when someone told me it was 15 years ago – where did that time go.
“We have good players in Wales and hopefully this could be the year when one of us does well.
“Neil is apart from Ronnie O’Sullivan the best player in the world, there are hardly any faults in his game. But I know if I play okay I can beat anyone apart from maybe Ronnie.”
“I made a couple of breaks which I haven’t been doing and hopefully it can keep going. I don’t get many centuries these days, and should have had two.
“I know my form is there – I just can’t find it, but I need to produce it for my next match.”
Another former Welsh Open winner, Ali Carter, survived a scare or two in his 4-3 win over Mike Dunn and he now faces Mark Allen in the last 32.
Recent Gdynia Open champion Shaun Murphy showed more evidence that he is coming back to form with a 4-2 win over Craig Steadman, and next takes on Liang Wenbo.
Anthony McGill scored an impressive 4-1 victory over Ryan Day to earn a tie against Judd Trump, and there were also good wins for Jack Lisowski and Ben Woollaston.
Photographs by Monique Limbos