Jack Lisowski is taking nothing for granted as he targets a first Triple Crown title at the UK Championship.
Tumbling top seeds have left the draw in York wide open, although six-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is safely through to the quarter-finals to leave Lisowski optimistic, but cautious after joining him.
Asked if he could go all the way after completing a 6-4 victory over Iran’s Hossein Vafaei to book a last-eight showdown with Zhao Xintong, the world number 15 told BBC2: “Why not?
“Every final I’ve had when I’ve done well in tournaments, I’ve had [Mark] Selby, [Neil] Robertson, Judd [Trump], and they’re just different mustard out there.
“They’re not in it this year. Would it be Ronnie I could get in the other half? I don’t know.”
O’Sullivan is a strong favourite to claim his eighth UK title, but Lisowski, who revealed he had taken advice from former world champion Peter Ebdon to help him prepare mentally for the tournament, admits there is an opportunity for someone other than the usual suspects to make their mark.
He said: “I’ve noticed in the last few years, there’s definitely a big step up, the top four players. When you’re bumping into a Trump, Robertson, Ronnie, Selby, they’re a cut above all the rest, so when they lose…
“I’ve actually been in tournaments where I’ve been the top seed left and I’ve never won one, so when they all go out above me now, I’m not going to say I start expecting too much because all these players left can play.
“But I’ve still got to pot the balls, still got to play well and it’s a lot easier said than done.”
Lisowski led 3-1 and 4-2, but Vafaei, who had pulled it back to 3-2 with a break of 115, continued to make life difficult for him until paying for his bravery in the 10th frame.
Trailing 5-4 and 54-44, he attempted to pot a difficult final red along the top cushion rather than playing safe and left it up, allowing his opponent eventually to clear to the brown and seal the win.
The Englishman said: “I want him to go for it, 100 per cent. They’re so tricky. I’d have been playing safe off that and trying to snooker me if I was him.”
Belgium’s Luca Brecel enjoyed a far more comfortable passage as he beat Anthony Hamilton 6-1.
Brecel compiled two breaks of 72 and another of 69 to reach the quarter-finals for the third time.
In Thursday’s late session, Barry Hawkins won five successive frames after the mid-session break to fight back and secure a 6-3 victory over Matthew Selt.
Trailing 3-1 in what was at times a scrappy contest, Hawkins rediscovered his form, just missing the final black when on 99 in the fifth frame before a break of 103 later secured the eighth and another run of 92 booked his place in the quarter-finals.
On the other table, Andy Hicks edged out David Gilbert 6-5 as their contest went the distance.
There was little between both players, Hicks levelling at 3-3 with another half-century clearance before a run of 82 saw him take the eighth frame and then edge in front.
Gilbert, though, fought back to force a decider, which Hicks won 75-0, with a break of 56, to progress to the last eight, where he will meet Barry Hawkins.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe