The Quarter-Finals get underway at The 2019 Masters on Thursday with two former champions aiming to remain in the running at Alexandra Palace.
The 45th staging of snooker’s most prestigious invitational has already witnessed a number of eye-catching performances, as well as at least one century in every match, and the drama is set to intensify as the tournament enters the business end.
All eyes will be on crowd favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan as he steps up his pursuit of an eighth Masters crown with a clash against Ryan Day in the afternoon session.
O’Sullivan, who eclipsed Stephen Hendry’s tally of Masters titles with his triumph in 2017, is looking to reach a fourth final in his last six visits to Ally Pally.
The reigning UK Champion began his quest to scoop a seasonal Triple Crown with a 6-2 victory over Stuart Bingham in Round One and now meets Welsh ace Day for the first time since 2011.
O’Sullivan’s incredible longevity since turning professional in 1992 sees him continue to topple numerous records, and with 988 career centuries to his name, the magic 1,000 is now very much in his sights.
Day, making his sixth appearance at The Masters, has reached four ranking Quarter-Finals this term, three of which having come in Home Nation Series events.
The number 13 seed held his nerve to close out a deciding frame win over two-time Masters Champion John Higgins on Day One courtesy of a stunning 128 clearance in the decider.
Day has won two of his six previous meetings with O’Sullivan, incidentally their two most recent meetings at the Welsh Open and China Open eight years ago, though ‘The Rocket’ won their most high-profile encounter to date in the Last 16 of the 2006 World Championship.
Two resurgent cueists go head-to-head in another unmissable show-down as 2011 Masters Champion Ding Junhui faces Belgian ace Luca Brecel.
Ding won the last Masters tournament to be staged at Wembley Arena with victory over Marco Fu in the first all-Asian final and will be out to banish his below-par record at Ally Pally.
China’s number one has struggled to get his season off the ground so far, with his best performance coming on home soil at the Shanghai Masters – where he reached the Semi-Finals.
He had won just one game at this venue but doubled his tally with a 6-1 thrashing of debutant Jack Lisowski on Monday and will be out to sustain that ruthless edge.
Brecel recorded his first win at The Masters by dethroning defending champion Mark Allen in the opening match of the tournament, holding his nerve in a thrilling decider.
The world number 15 endured a year to forget in 2018 as he failed to progress beyond the Last 16 stage of any televised tournament, notably suffering First Round exits in the World Championship, International Championship and German Masters.
The 23-year-old is now bidding for a first victory over Ding at the fifth attempt as he bids to book a Semi-Final spot.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with all matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames.
The Masters 2019 Match Schedule
Thursday January 17
Ryan Day v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Luca Brecel v Ding Junhui