Michael Smith’s quest to claim a first televised ranking title will roll on today (Sunday) as the world number four claimed a 10-7 win over fellow St Helens ace Stephen Bunting in the £500,000 Unibet European Championship last night..
Smith hit the front early on, racing in to a 3-0 lead and hitting a 158 finish, before Bunting reduced the deficit to just one at the first break.
The World Matchplay finalist then moved in to a 9-5 lead where he looked set to secure the win, before accidentally swallowing some ice, which appeared to slow his charge.
A tops-tops 100 finish did eventually get Smith over the line though and he will face Jeffrey de Zwaan in the last eight.
“I felt good and all of a sudden I swallowed a bit of ice when I was having a drink, my eyes were watering whilst I was trying to take out 96,” joked Smith after the game.
“I’m just happy to get the win, that’s the most important thing and I’m still going for tomorrow.”
The win sets up a quarter-final clash with de Zwaan, after the Dutchman overcame his fellow countryman Jermaine Wattimena in a 10-6 success.
Six 180s and over 50 per cent on his finishing saw the 23-year-old qualified for his first televised quarter-final since the World Matchplay in 2018.
The meeting with Smith will be only their second televised clash, with the Englishman winning the first match at the World Championship in 2015.
“It was a really tough game, we are from the same country so I really wanted to beat him,” said De Zwaan after his win over Wattimena.
“I lost my first World Championship match against Michael Smith, but I have a good record against him since then so I will do my best and see what happens.”
The 2019 Unibet European Championship will conclude today (Sunday) with the quarter-finals taking place during the afternoon session, with the evening playing host to the semi’s and final where a new European champion will be crowned.
Saturday October 26
Vincent dan der Voort 10-5 Chris Dobey
Michael Smith 10-7 Stephen Bunting
Gerwyn Price 10-6 Nathan Aspinall
Jeffrey de Zwaan 10-6 Jermaine Wattimena
Sunday October 27 (1245 local time, 1145 GMT)
Ricky Evans v Rob Cross
Dave Chisnall v Daryl Gurney
Michael Smith v Jeffrey de Zwaan
Vincent van der Voort v Gerwyn Price
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 GMT)
Semi-Finals & Final