Northern Ireland Open Snooker 2021 | Quarter-Finals Preview and Order of Play
John Higgins looks to maintain his impressive record against an in-form David Gilbert as the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals take centre stage on Friday.
Just eight players remain heading into day seven of the opening Home Nations event of this season at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
Four-time World champion Higgins has now won 67 matches since the introduction of the Home Nations series in 2016; a tally only bettered by Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The Wizard produced an inspired turnaround from 3-0 down to stun Mark Williams 4-3 on Thursday, and remain on course for a maiden title here.
Higgins has won six of his seven previous meetings with Gilbert, including the 2015 International Championship showpiece, while also prevailing in semi-final showdowns at the World Championship and Masters.
However, that is unlikely to affect the recently crowned Championship League winner in what is his first quarter-final appearance at this event since 2018.
Following a marvellous 4-2 victory over World champion Mark Selby in round four, an inspired Gilbert has now won 19 of his 21 matches this season, having also reached this stage of the British Open.
Elsewhere, home favourite Mark Allen has won three of his last five meetings with reigning champion Judd Trump, with the pair set to clash in what promises to be a highly entertaining contest.
Both players came through round-four deciders against Stephen Maguire and Jimmy Robertson respectively, and will not want to see their hard work undone here.
Meanwhile, Shaun Murphy has won 12 of his 16 matches against three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden, with the 2005 World champion coming out on top in each of the last four.
The Magician arrived this week having suffering four first-round exits in his five previous appearances, but has equalled his best performance from 2019.
As for Walden, he is appearing in back-to-back ranking event quarter-finals this season – and his first in Belfast.
In the other clash, 2017 finalist Yan Bingtao’s quest to go the extra step resumes against Mitchell Mann.
The Masters champion showed tremendous composure to defeat Ronnie O’Sullivan in a decider on Thursday, while world number 109 Mann has beaten Kyren Wilson on the way to a first ranking event quarter-final appearance since the 2017 Paul Hunter Classic.
Play gets underway at 12pm BST on Friday with all matches contested over the best of nine frames at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
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Northern Ireland Open 2021 Schedule
Friday October 15
Judd Trump v Mark Allen
Shaun Murphy v Ricky Walden
Yan Bingtao v Mitchell Mann
John Higgins v David Gilbert