ANTHONY McGill is fast becoming the darling of the Crucible and kept alive his hopes of a semi-final place in a titanic battle against Shaun Murphy.
But it was Judd Trump who hogged the limelight on day 11 as he built a seemingly unassailable 12-4 lead as the second session of his best-of-25 frames quarter-final against Ding Junhui drew to a close.
With compatriot Stephen Maguire and reigning champion Mark Selby already having fallen victim to McGill, Murphy was next to pit his wits against the 24-year-old.
The pair resumed last night locked level at 4-4 from the morning, 2005 world champion Murphy having opened with back-to-back centuries.
But once McGill managed to escape his chair he won four of the next five frames, knocking in breaks of 66, 89 and 65 along the way. But Murphy dug deep to square the session to set up a fascinating evening.
McGill is competing at the Crucible this year for the first time, but the Glaswegian has shown enough in his first two rounds to indicate he is unlikely to be a flash in the pan. A clearance of 137 to kick off the evening edged him back in front of Murphy. The Magician levelled, a 46-break eventually enough to decide a 46-minute marathon frame.
Still momentum swung from one man to the next, McGill going 6-5 up before Murphy hit straight back with a last-eight classic on the cards.
Following his second round win over Marco Fu, Trump declared himself in good enough nick to win the World Snooker Championships, then vowed to let his snooker do the talking against Ding.
He delivered on his promise in the morning session, winning the opening six frames with breaks of 45, 54, 82, 94 and 108.
Ding has done his growing up on the snooker tour since turning professional aged 16, and showed a cool head and great maturity to end the session within four frames of Trump.
But when the Juddernaut is at the table there is simply no stopping him and he began the evening session with a fabulous 102 break to set the tone.
A break of 55 followed to make it 8-2 and he took the 11th too to move ever closer to the last four. Ding’s task now was to make sure he won the two frames required to return for today’s final session and he obliged with breaks of 69 and 51 to bring the score back to 9-4, before Trump took frame 14, then made back-to-back centuries in an emphatic finish.
Former champions Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson both must play catch-up to reach the semi-finals.
Five-time Crucible winner O’Sullivan trails 5-3 overnight to fellow Essex boy Stuart Bingham in their best-of-25 frames encounter, despite having knocked in breaks of 116, 118 and 87.
Barry Hawkins leads Robertson by the same score.
Norwegian yodeler Bjorn helped welcome the players into the arena for the afternoon session, where the Rocket made a blistering start to his match with a ton inside ten minutes.
But once Bingham got the chance to get out of his chair in frame two and he was not going to let the opportunity pass him by, a break of 64 helping to bring him level.
Bingham took the third, but there is little he, or anyone else for that matter, can do when O’Sullivan is among the balls and he got back level to 2-2 with another century.
There is never a dull moment when O’Sullivan is around and he was perhaps fortunate not to incur a foul when he placed his chalk on the pink spot in frame five, Maltese referee Terry Camilleri deeming him not to have done so to help measure a shot.
His 3-2 lead, though, quickly evaporated, Bingham digging deep to rattle off three frames in a row as he seeks a first win over O’Sullivan since the 2013 UK Championship.
On table one, Hawkins took the opening frame against 2010 champion Robertson in 35 minutes, but the Australian was quickly in among the balls in frame two, making a majestic 115.
Robertson won frames three and four, but Hawkins was determined to not let the quarter-final get away from him and responded emphatically.
The 36-year-old won the final four frames of the session to gain the upper hand.
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