FRIDAY SEES THE conclusion of the Dafabet Masters quarter-finals…
MARK ALLEN v JOE PERRY (1pm)
Perry finally broke his Masters duck on his seventh appearance in the game’s most prestigious invitation tournament with a strong all round performance against Ding Junhui on Wednesday night. Two centuries plus some solid tactical play helped him spring something of an upset.
Perry is a quietly effective player with bags of experience and every reason to believe that now he has this initial win out of the way, he can go even further.
Allen, though, was very impressive against John Higgins, despite the Scot’s heavy scoring. What made the difference in this match was that Allen coped the better of the two when the pressure came on. Indeed, he often seems to play his best snooker in the heat of battle, a trait also shared by his Northern Irish forebears Alex Higgins, Dennis Taylor and Joe Swail.
In tournament play, Perry holds a 3-1 advantage over Allen, but this will be their highest profile meeting so far.
Allen is the sort of character who brims with self-belief and relishes the big crowds and atmosphere. But he will be aware that Perry poses a threat, especially with the boost of confidence he received after beating Ding.
SHAUN MURPHY v STEPHEN MAGUIRE (7pm)
This one has the potential to be really close as these two contemporaries and old adversaries meet again.
Murphy, showing no ill effects of his New Year chest infection, played a good decider after Mark Selby recovered from 5-1 down last Sunday afternoon and has had a long wait for this quarter-final.
Maguire recovered from a bad start against Judd Trump and, though he did not play his consistent best, battled through gamely a 6-4 winner.
Murphy won two European Tour events earlier in the season while Maguire captured the most recent in Lisbon last month. So they have both showed title winning form during the campaign although Murphy is the only one of the duo to have appeared in a Masters final (in 2012).
Murphy leads their personal head-to-head 10-7 and has won their three most recent meetings with Maguire’s last win coming in 2012, but this one is the toss of a coin and will hopefully be a close, high quality contest between these two very different personalities.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.