Hawkins, Maguire reach last eight

Salisbury Journal: Stephen Maguire, pictured, beat fellow Scot John Higgins in York Stephen Maguire, pictured, beat fellow Scot John Higgins in York

Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire sealed their UK Championship quarter-final places - and with them the chance to fulfil Ronnie O'Sullivan's prophecy.

The four-time champion predicted after beating Marcus Campbell in the last 32 that the winner would come from the world's top 16 but possibly from outside the favoured trio of himself, Neil Robertson and the in-form Ding Junhui.

That group would include both Maguire, who was the first man through with a fifth successive win over fellow Scot John Higgins, and Hawkins, who saw off Shaun Murphy in a 6-5 finish shortly before 11.30pm.

A break of 90 won Maguire the opening frame but Higgins battled to 2-2 at the interval.

Maguire made 59 and a tournament-high 142 in the first two frames back and was always in control from then on.

He said: "It's a great win, any time you beat John is a proud moment.

"I felt good after the interval. I should probably have been 3-1 up, maybe even 4-0, and at two each I was thinking 'have I given it away?'

"But I was happy how I knuckled down after the interval."

In the other game, Hawkins trailed 2-0 but drew level by the interval after breaks of 87 and 50.

He made two centuries in the first three frames back, though Murphy took the one between and was able to force a final frame with a 69 break.

But after Murphy missed a long red, Hawkins made 70 and then edged over the line.

Murphy paid tribute to the victor, saying: "Barry's full of confidence on the back of his Australian Open win, he now believes he's a winner.

"That is a massive difference, those six inches between your ears make all the difference."

Hawkins was on course for a maximum break - and the accompanying £59,000 payday - in the final frame but discretion proved the better part of valour as he opted for a blue.

"I was actually thinking about it, up to about 48, and I just came a bit too far on a black," he said.

"I talked myself out of it, I said 'don't be silly, just try and win the match first'. I'm pleased I made that decision, that's the most important thing."

The third round concluded earlier in the day, with O'Sullivan improving after the interval to defeat Campbell 6-2 with two centuries.

The Londoner said: "There's still a long way to go - hopefully.

"The danger is everyone thinking me, Ding and Neil are the hot favourites. I believe the winner could come from someone who's just coming into form now.

"I'm not writing myself off, otherwise I might as well throw a sick note in, and I'm not writing off Ding's or Neil's chances.

"I'm just saying that the top-16 guys who have not been getting the results, it's probably a matter of time before they have their good spell."

Ding won this title in 2005 and 2009 and is on pace to repeat the four-year cycle after beating Fergal O'Brien 6-1.

But continuing his current hot streak - which has seen him win the Shanghai Masters, the Indian Open and the International Championship in China - would mean more to the world number three.

Stephen Hendry, in 1990, was the last player to win four ranking titles consecutively and Ding said: "That's the legend, no-one has done that since he did it so... I'll try."

World number one Robertson kicked off his 6-3 win over China's Li Hang with a 141, defending champion Mark Selby dispatched Stuart Carrington 6-0 and Ricky Walden beat Mark Williams 6-5.

There were also victories for Robert Milkins, Mark Allen and David Morris, who ended the dream run of Sheffield amateur Mitchell Travis with a 6-1 win.

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