Ronnie O’Sullivan and Kyren Wilson will collide in the Quarter-Finals of the 2021 UK Championship after defeating Noppon Saengkham and Ben Woollaston respectively in York on Wednesday.
A repeat of the 2020 World Championship final will see O’Sullivan and Wilson go head-to-head after the pair enjoyed comfortable Fourth Round wins at the York Barbican.
Seven-time UK Champion O’Sullivan remains the only former winner of this title left standing in the competition after he produced a timely late burst to see off Thailand’s Saengkham.
Saengkham, bidding to avenge his defeat to ‘The Rocket’ in York two years ago, established a 3-2 lead, but only for O’Sullivan to reel off four in a row to clinch victory.
“Winning tournaments is not going to make a difference to my life,” reflected O’Sullivan. “It would be great, but we all have different perspectives and at this stage in my career I don’t get excited by winning tournaments. I get excited by having a good life.
“I have been relaxed for a while. I much prefer watching and talking about it than playing it.
“I have to force myself to get some juice out of it. It is going to end at some point so might as well try and get as much out of it.
“I no longer think my best is better than anyone else’s best. That is always a sign, will I be comfortable with that?”
Saengkham took the opening frame before O’Sullivan levelled with a break of 76, but the world number 45 responded with a fine 83 clearance to regain the lead.
O’Sullivan restored parity at the interval courtesy of a clinical 98 break, but a missed black proved costly in frame five as Saengkham made a 59 break to lead 3-2.
However, a pivotal moment came in frame six as Saengkham failed to convert a host of chances, allowing O’Sullivan off the hook to draw level, before adding a break of 74 to move in front for the first time.
O’Sullivan then dominated frame eight by 92 points to nil and went on to clinch victory in trademark fashion with a crowd-pleasing break of 120.
O’Sullivan will now face Wilson on Friday afternoon after the number five seed overcame Ben Woollaston 6-3.
Wilson raced into a 4-0 lead with breaks of 66, 58 and 66 along the way, before Woollaston claimed the opening two frames after the interval to claw his way back into the match.
Woollaston then missed a golden opportunity to clinch the seventh frame as Wilson capitalised to extend his lead, and though the Leicester cueist replied with a break of 83, Wilson made a 65 break to seal his spot in a third UK Championship Quarter-Final in four years.
Elsewhere, Chinese sensation Zhao Xintong progressed to his first Triple Crown Quarter-Final courtesy of a 6-4 win over veteran Peter Lines.
Zhao stormed into a 4-1 lead with breaks of 58 and 122 before Yorkshireman Lines took the next three frames to draw level without registering a half century.
Zhao, though, recovered superbly with successive breaks of 92 and 67 to continue his ground-breaking run.
Anthony McGill advanced to the Last Eight for the first time since 2014 following a 6-3 success over Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown.
An impressive scoring display from the Scot saw him register breaks of 117, 77, 68 and 80 in ending Brown’s landmark run at the Barbican.
UK Championship Snooker 2021 Day Eight Results
Wednesday December 1
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 Noppon Saengkham
Zhao Xintong 6-4 Peter Lines
Jordan Brown 3-6 Anthony McGill
Kyren Wilson 6-3 Ben Woollaston