Judd Trump became the first man through to the Semi-Finals of the 2020 Players Championship after a 6-3 victory over John Higgins in Southport on Wednesday.
The world number one stepped up his quest for a fifth ranking title of the season with a hard-fought fourth consecutive win over the four-time World Champion.
Despite not being at his prolific scoring best, Trump dug deep in the tactical exchanges to fend off the astute Scotsman and progress to the Last Four of the Coral Series event.
“It was very scrappy, I think we were both fighting for our lives out there,” Trump told ITV Sport.
“I was in control at 3-1 then missed a couple of easy balls and let him back into it.
“At that point I was kind of worried and thinking “is this getting away from me?” and in the end it went a bit scrappy and I was able to just nick the odd ball and go for my shots.
“I don’t care as much about scrapping it out now, in the past I’d have been a bit worried for the audience thinking ‘are they getting bored’ or look around to see if anyone’s nodded to sleep!
“Now I’m able to miss easy balls and put it to the back of my mind, whereas in the past it would be the worst thing in the world.”
Trump took the opening frame with a break of 74 before Higgins hit back with a 73 break to level up.
The reigning World Champion dominated frame three before adding a break of 85 to move 3-1 ahead at the interval.
Higgins came out firing after the restart with a vintage break of 123 before dominating frame six to restore parity.
Trump made a 67 to regain the upper-hand, and after sealing a marathon frame eight, edged his way over the line in the following frame.
“I was 4-3 behind and played a couple of bad positional shots,” admitted Higgins.
“Apart from that I didn’t really compete in the end there.
“He potted some unbelievable balls in the last frame.”
Earlier in the day, Mark Allen defied a bout of illness to overcome Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-3 with high breaks of 129, 132 and 123 in the process.
Welsh Open champion Shaun Murphy completed the Quarter-Final line-up at the Waterfront by edging out fellow top 16 star David Gilbert in a last-frame decider.
Gilbert fought back from 3-0 down to level at 4-4 with high breaks of 79, 122 and 67 to Murphy’s 62, 93 and 103.
Murphy then regained the lead with a 52 break before Gilbert responded with breaks of 67 and 50 to force a decider.
But it was Murphy who took immediate control and went on to dominate the decider by 72 points to nil to set up a show-down with Allen.