JOEL WALKER continued his terrific run at the BetVictor Welsh Open with a 4-3 win over defending champion Stephen Maguire.
The Sheffield teenager reached his first ranking-event quarter-final by holding his nerve to beat the world No8, who lifted the trophy in Newport 12 months ago.
Walker, 19, was picked out by Ronnie O’Sullivan to win a ‘Pot Idol’ style future stars competition staged by Rileys during the World Championships four years ago.
And having turned professional in 2012 Walker is now starting fulfil some of his undoubted potential, and will have little to lose when taking on Ding Junhui on Friday.
World No84 Walker said: “Stephen is one of the best players in the world and even though he didn't play well today he has got the experience.
"I felt the pressure quite a bit and missed a few balls. I probably should have won 4-2 but then I played a good decider and I had a little bit of luck. That is definitely the biggest win of my career. To knock a player like that out is a big confidence boost.
"I didn't play great, I just played solid. I didn't score as well as I can but luckily he didn't punish me as he should of. After the Christmas break I wasn't playing as well.
“It was just a lack of matches which made me lose some sharpness. I was scoring heavily and hope I can find that form again because I will need it this week."
Maguire, 32, said: “Joel played okay, probably a bit better than me and he deserved it. I had chances in every frame so I can’t complain.
“He is 19, only young and now in his first quarter-final so he is on the up. He could have finished me off a bit easier, but was feeling the pressure in his situation. Good luck to him.
“It is one that got away from my perspective. I played well in my previous match but I never showed up today.
“It is hard to win a title let alone defend it, but I have no time to dwell on it, we roll on to the next tournament.”
The 26-year-old Ding eased past the other teenager left in the draw, Perth’s Scott Donaldson, without dropping a frame.
With a fifth ranking title of the season still very much a possibility, the world No3 and former Welsh Open winner said: “I watched some of Joel’s match against Stephen, he played well.
“I feel okay, and not worried about who I play next though, I just need to keep my concentration high.”