ASHLEY HUGILL has labelled his career-best run to the BetVictor English Open quarter-finals as “a step in the right direction” for his snooker career.

Melbourne’s Hugill made the last eight of a ranking event for the first time since turning professional in 2017 after recording wins over Fan Zhengyi, Pang Junxu and Martin Gould, all players ranked higher than the world number 85.

The 28-year-old’s journey at Essex’s Brentwood Centre was eventually ended by a 5-0 defeat to Mark Allen, the runaway leader of the one-year ranking list.

“I’m really proud of the run,” reflected Hugill. “But a quarter-final isn’t my target. I want to be winning events at some stage.

“This represents a step in the right direction. But my overall target isn’t to make quarter-finals, it’s to win events.

“This run was a step closer to achieving that. Maybe next time I make a quarter-final, I go on to make the semi-final and so on.

“This is a step in the right direction for me and the reward for hard-work I’ve been putting in is, which is good to see.

“It can be tough when you work so hard and you don’t see the results come in.

“Working hard doesn’t guarantee success, it just reduces your chances of failure. That’s how I see it.

“It does feel good to finally see some rewards this season.”

Having not progressed beyond the first round in any event prior to the English Open this season, Hugill’s run came as a surprise to many, including himself.

“It felt like it came a little bit out of the blue really,” he admitted. “Recently, I’d made some technical changes and I was still getting used to those.

“Plus, going into the week, I was full of cold. I had a cough, a runny nose and I could hardly concentrate.

“I wasn’t sleeping very well and I had to get up off a few shots to cough. It didn’t put me off too much though. I just got on with it and made the best of it.

“Going into my matches I wasn’t expecting too much and I wasn’t over-thinking it. I was just like, ‘Let’s see if I can get through this match first, never mind win it. Let’s play it one ball at a time’.

“In a way it was a surprise that I did as well as I did. You always visualise winning matches and getting personal-bests, but it really felt like it came out of the blue.”

The 4-1 victory over Gould, who had knocked out record-seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan hours earlier, was Hugill’s stand-out result of the week.

“That was definitely my best performance," he said. "I expected to be playing Ronnie on the TV table, no disrespect to Martin.

“When Martin won, I thought that it was an even bigger opportunity, again no disrespect to Martin.

“I played great. He ran out of position in the first frame and I made a century.

“That set the tempo for the match and he never really settled. I made some good breaks and ended up winning quite comfortably in the end.

“I knew that if I beat Martin it would put me in my first quarter-final.

"I’d been in a few last 16s, I think that was my fourth. It felt like the right time to make that next step.”