Mark Allen produced an escape Harry Houdini would have been proud of when beating Shaun Murphy in the first round of the Tour Championship but he may struggle to repeat the trick against Mark Selby.
Murphy knocked in six centuries, equalling the record over a best-of-17-frame format, in the opening contest but somehow found himself heading home from Milton Keynes.
Allen managed a century himself in that 9-8 win, and he is a superb break-builder when on-song, but it was his battling qualities that got him through against the Magician.
That victory will come as a welcome boost to the Pistol but the fact remains that the Antrim Ace has been struggling for form for some time.
Allen Needs to Be on Top of His Game
Prior to this event and excluding the recent short-format Championship League, Allen has managed to win just five matches in the last seven events he has entered and it is likely he will need to be near the top of his game against Selby.
The Jester looked in good touch against Yan Bingtao and, as is often the case, he improved as that first-round contest wore on. The Leicester man was pretty ruthless in dispatching his young opponent at the end of that match and that bodes well for his prospects of future progress.
Selby made breaks of 99, 105 and 119 against the Chinese cueman, and although conditions seems to have been conducive to heavy-scoring this week, that is still impressive scoring.
The tables are due to be re-clothed for the semi-finals so it remains to be seen if the tendency for big breaks continues.
Either way Selby can operate at the top level on both sides of the game and he is well-suited to this best-of-17-frame format.
The Leicester potter hasn’t had the most consistent of seasons but he has still managed to claim the English and Scottish Open titles this term. Perhaps motivation isn’t always soaring for the three-time World Champion in some of the low-key events but Selby is unlikely to loosen his grip on this one-table big-money event.
It’s possible that the enforced break will see Selby return with added impetus and that could spell trouble for Allen.
4/6* shot that the Jester can book his place in the final and that looks a bet that could make backers smile.
Trump Trumped by Maguire
The winner will take on Stephen Maguire, who dumped out world champion Judd Trump 9-6 to book his place in the Tour Championship final.
Maguire mustered six centuries when getting the better of Neil Robertson in the last eight but he showed a different side to his game against Trump, with his break of 132 a rare high in a match lacking few moments of brilliance.
A day prior to this last-four duel, Trump had questioned Maguire’s mentality and dedication to reach his true potential but the Scot showed plenty of grit and determination to lower the colours of the world number one.
Maguire was a late replacement for Ding Junhui in Milton Keynes after the Chinese ace withdrew from the competition and he is making the most of the opportunity he was given.