Peter Ebdon is the latest big name player to make an exit from the Benson and Hedges Masters at Wembley tonight. Paul Hunter, responsible for the demise of defending champion Matthew Stevens in the last 16, booked his semi-final place with less than convincing 6-3 victory over Ebdon, where he'll meet either Jimmy White or Stephen Hendry.
The 22-year-old Yorkshireman, now guaranteed a minimum pay day of £45,000, gave a huge sigh of relief as well as a clenched fist victory salute when he put the finishing touches to a match-clinching 44 break. "It was a long match," said the world number 14 from Leeds, a runner-up to Ken Doherty in the Welsh Open at Cardiff. "I like to get on with it, while Peter is quite slow. That's the way he plays, but today he seemed to be even slower. He just tried to bring me down to his speed and I had to keep my concentration. It will be a far more entertaining game against White or Hendry, whose head-to-head tomorrow is the pick of the quarter-finals."
There was no sign of the grind to come when the duo whipped through the opening three frames in just 43 minutes. Ebdon compiled 61 to lead 1-0, but Hunter replied with runs of 57 and 93 to go 2-1 up. It was then the brakes were applied. The next two frames totalled nearly 50 minutes with Ebdon taking them both. The sixth frame, at 34 minutes, was the longest of a three-hour, 16-minute marathon, but Hunter potted the vital balls to draw level at 3-3. He recovered from 50-0 down to make it 4-3 on the black and then added breaks of 70 and 44 to reach the last four.
Filed by Shane Murray