European Masters: Rhys Clark and Scott Donaldson lead a surprise last 16 line-up

European Masters: Rhys Clark and Scott Donaldson lead a surprise last 16 line-up

22-year-olds Clark and Donaldson have never progressed so far in a major ranking competition.

Chris Lincoln

Young hopeful Rhys Clark has reached the last sixteen of the European Masters despite being ranked number 79 in the World. However the Scotsman will have to produce the match of his life if he is going to progress past Neil Robertson into the quarter-finals. He is joined by compatriot Scott Donaldson who has added another verse to the story of David versus Goliath.

Donaldson turns potential into quality

With the likes of Stuart Bingham, Stephen Maguire, Kyren Wilson, Mark Williams, Martin Gould and Joe Perry all being dumped out of the competition as early as the qualifying rounds, the tournament has been blown wide open for anyone who can find a good spell of form throughout the week.

Scott Donaldson has been teetering on the verge of making a breakthrough this season, following a number of close calls against some of the World's finest. He just missed out on qualification for the Riga Masters and Indian Open after losing final frame deciders to Michael Holt and Barry Hawkins respectively. He then saw off four higher ranked players, including former World Champion Peter Ebdon, in the Shanghai Masters qualification before meeting eventual Champion Ding Junhui in the first round proper.

Yet the World number 92 has taken his game up another gear after defeating Chris Wakelin and second seed Stuart Bingham in qualification. After finding himself two frames down to young starlet Luca Brecel, he recovered to win 4-3 and set up a last 16 match against Anthony McGill, who defeated Ali Carter in tough opening match of his own.

Carter won't have been happy with his early exit.
Carter won't have been happy with his early exit.

Clark, Higginson and Burden also progress

Rhys Clark has followed in Donaldson's footsteps, seeing off his two qualifying opponents and then stunning David Grace with a 4-1 victory in the first round proper. A century break of 101 in the opening frame set him on his way, although that was trumped by his second round opponent Neil Robertson who compiled a 112 on his way to defeating former World Champion Graeme Dott.

World number 56 Andrew Higginson is another surprise addition to the last 16. After defeating Stephen Maguire in qualification, he then whitewashed Marco Fu to join Judd Trump in the next round. 

Alfie Burden is nine places below Higginson and becomes the fourth player outside the top 50 to reach the last 16. He has enjoyed a more favourable draw but still had to defeat Ryan Day and will face a different proposition in Ricky Walden.

The Rocket is flying

There are still a handful of intriguing battles that will take place between players in the top 20 of the World. Barry Hawkins has a tough tie against World Champion Mark Selby, whilst Ronnie O'Sullivan found some good form as he sets up a contest with Mark Allen.

An exciting last 16 is completed by two players outside the top 30 in Tom Ford and Mark Davis who will play John Higgins and Liang Wenbo respectively.