JOHN HIGGINS and Judd Trump were among five top 16 players to claim one of the first eight places in the last 16 of the Gdynia Open in Poland on Friday.
Four-times world champion Higgins, who won the first European Tour event of the season, made it through to the final day of the last with a hard fought 4-3 victory over Barry Hawkins in the last 32.
Higgins was joined by Trump, whose form took an upward turn last week through his run to the German Masters final. Trump led snooker legend Steve Davis 3-1 before making an 88 break to win their decider, with Davis having run 137 in an earlier frame.
Stephen Maguire lost only one frame as he qualified for Sunday, with a match against fellow Scot Higgins the reward.
Shaun Murphy, precariously placed 24th in the order of merit at the start of the tournament – with the top 24 qualifying for the grand finals – advanced to the final day with a 4-1 defeat of Tian Pengfei.
The fifth member of the game’s elite group to qualify for the last 16 was Robert Milkins, who beat Martin Gould 4-2. Gould had a chance for a maximum in the fifth frame but lost position on the yellow on 120.
The other half of the draw is played down to 16 in Gdynia today, with Neil Robertson, Marco Fu, Mark Williams and Graeme Dott among the big names in action.
An announcement about the location of the grand finals is expected next week after anti-government protests in Bangkok led to the likelihood of a change from the Thai capital.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.