John Higgins set up an eagerly anticipated semi-final showdown with Judd Trump in the Scottish Open after enjoying a comfortable 5-2 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Last Eight at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow.
The home favourite made a top break of 104 in the clash of the titans between the two players battling it out to remain on course for a 29th ranking event title in the third leg of the inaugural Home Nations Series.
Higgins had only dropped a single frame over the opening four rounds in Glasgow and drew first blood by taking the opener which lasted over 30 minutes, before a run of 88 helped him on the way to a commanding 3-0 lead in a repeat of last month’s Champion of Champions Final which he won 10-7.
O’Sullivan had only registered a high break of 12 at this stage but responded with 46 in the next, before a loose positional shot allowed his opponent back in with a chance for 4-0.
However, the Scotsman could not take advantage as he missed the green with the rest and, following a brief tactical exchange, a brilliant doubled pink fired the Rocket back into contention at the interval.
World number three Higgins responded after the break to move to the brink of victory which, despite O’Sullivan holding on with runs of 41 and 37 to make it 4-2, he sealed in style with a wonderful total clearance of 104.
That set up a mouth-watering clash with Trump, who was a 5-3 winner against Robert Milkins.
The Ace had lost three of his four previous meetings with the Milkman, who took the opening frame with a neat clearance from the final red to pink after his opponent had missed the opportunity to overturn a lengthy deficit.
However, the European Masters champion stole the second on the black before a run of 58 gave him a 2-1 lead, but a contribution of 57 from Milkins levelled the scores once more at 2-2.
Trump then won two of the next three frames, before a break of 78 – his highest of the match – secured the 20th ranking event semi-final berth of his career.
Marco Fu continued his strong form with a 5-1 victory over Mark Davis (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Marco Fu recovered from losing the opening frame by reeling off the next five to secure a comprehensive 5-1 success over Mark Davis.
Davis came flying out of the blocks as he crashed in a wonderful 114 total clearance, but a wasted opportunity to steal the second frame allowed Fu to level things up.
It was all one-way traffic from there as a run of 53 put the Hong Kong cueist in front, before a fluked opening red paved the way for a brilliant 132 clearance to the pink and a 3-1 advantage.
The two-time ranking event winner picked up from where he left off after the interval with a 62 putting him on the verge of back-to-back semi-finals.
Hastings’ Davis threatened to keep the match alive when he made 62 in the next, but a fabulous clearance of 67 sealed the deal for Fu.
He will play Yu De Lu in what will be the latter's first-ever appearance in a ranking event semi-final after a dramatic 5-4 victory in his all-Chinese battle with Liang Wenbo.
The 29-year-old raced into a 3-0 lead but was pegged back to 3-3 by the English Open winner, before a marvellous 76 clearance to the pink from 57-0 down moved him one frame away from the Last Four.
He was in to secure his place in the next but somehow missed a straight black off its spot, which a shellshocked Liang potted to take the match into a decider.
Nevertheless Yu, who has already beaten the likes of Ding Junhui and Stuart Bingham this season, pulled himself together to control the ninth frame and scrape over the line.
Scottish Open 2016 Results
Friday December 16
Ronnie O'Sullivan 2-5 John Higgins
Judd Trump 5-3 Robert Milkins
Liang Wenbo 4-5 Yu De Lu
Marco Fu 5-1 Mark Davis