English Open: Number 91 seed Alexander Ursenbacher heads an improbable quarter-final line-up after another dramatic day

Hossein Vafei, ranked 63rd, is also in the last eight.

English Open: Number 91 seed Alexander Ursenbacher heads an improbable quarter-final line-up after another dramatic day
The European Under-21 champion is in great form (photo: Getty Images / VCG)

The English Open has certainly not been short of drama after an incredible opening two days. Yet nobody could have predicted the script that was about to unfold as two rounds of matches were played out on Thursday.

Youth show their class

The third round was undoubtedly one for the youngsters to take centre stage. Kyren Wilson cruised through with ease, whilst the European Under-21 champion, Alexander Ursenbacher defeated the higher ranked Stuart Carrington.

However, it was elsewhere on the tables that eyebrows were raised. Liang Wenbo looked to be in a good position to defend his title after compiling the first maximum break of the season in round two. However, compatriot Yan Bingtao held his nerve to win 4-0 in a tighter contest than the scoreline suggests. Bingtao took two frames by less than three points and another by just 16.

Both a former and the current World champion then fell short against the young pretenders. Jack Lisowski started to fulfil his potential as he eased past Mark Williams. Yet the biggest shock of the day saw World number one, Mark Selby, thrashed 4-1 by Xiao Guodong.

Stuart Bingham, the 2015 World champion, also bowed out but by the smallest of margins. His match against Hossein Vafei went right to the final black with the Iranian coming through to overturn a 53-place deficit in the rankings.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has been central to most of the drama this week and it did not escape him in the third round. After sealing victory with just the black ball remaining against Zhang Yong, a lady inexplicably ran around the table before the Rocket handed her the cue to attempt the final ball. She missed. Twice.

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Ursenbacher and Vafaei impress to reach quarter-finals

The fourth round then unfolded with further surprise outcomes. Alexander Ursenbacher, ranked 91st and 85 places below his opponent, stormed past Shaun Murphy with a 4-1 victory as another former World champion departed.

Iran's Vafaei continued his excellent week with the same result concluding at the same time as Ursenbacher as he limited Andrew Higginson to just two pots in the final four frames.

However, Yan Bingtao and veteran James Wattana fell just short in their respective matches. Bingtao lost a final frame decider against Anthony McGill, whilst Wattana was on the receiving end of the same result against Michael White.

Yet two familiar faces look to be in ominous form. Neil Robertson has quietly gone about his business to reach the last eight, albeit after being granted a relatively straightforward draw. In contrast, Ronnie O'Sullivan has lived and breathed eventful matches, particularly his epic 4-3 victory against John Higgins. The Rocket fell behind three times, only to come back on each occasion and win a final frame decider.