Judd Trump is in his first UK Championship final after beating former world champion Neil Robertson 9-7 in the first semi-final in York.
In a fascinating and compelling encounter, the 22 year-old emerged on top after a gruelling battle between two of the sport’s most exciting players.
Resuming after the afternoon session at 4-4, there was never much to choose between the pair as they conjured up an epic clash in front of a packed house at the Barbican.
Australian Robertson didn’t boast the lead once during the opening eight frames – coming from behind on three occasions with a top break of 105 – and a similar pattern ensued this evening with the 29 year-old unable to forge ahead of his fearsome, and fearless, opponent.
Indeed, The six-time ranking event champion could have claimed all four frames before the mid-session interval but could only muster up a solitary one to fall behind at 7-5.
It looked like the tide might have turned during the tenth frame when, leading 5-4, trump missed frame ball brown in what began a sequence of bizarre, tension-filled blunders from both competitors.
Robertson failed to seize his chance by missing the blue, then later a difficult pink by the proverbial mile, before the duo traded failed attempts at doubling the final black.
Finally, the Melbourne man sank the final ball and seemed to take the initiative during the next to potentially move ahead for the first time but broke down on 40, allowing Trump in to steal the frame – a trend that beset the entire clash.
Robertson impressively reduced the gap to 7-6 following the break before a remarkable period of safety ensued that ensured no ball was potted for more than half an hour.
When Robertson, who lost to Trump in the opening round of his defence of the World Championship at the Crucible last April, finally broke the deadlock he compiled a superb 83 to make it a best of three at 7-7.
Trump, though, dominated a scrappy 15th to move one clear once again and, after both players wasted a succession of opportunities in a nervy next frame, the China Open champion cleared to the pink to advance to his maiden UK Championship final.
It was a match fitting of the 17 frames awarded for the last four and was again a reminder as to why many involved in the game had doubts regarding the altered format in the earlier rounds.
The result means that it is the first calendar year since 2005 that Robertson has failed to lift a ranking event trophy which will no doubt go down as a disappointment to the former world number one.
However, it is a ground-breaking triumph for Trump, who has proven this week that he is more than capable of winning ugly as well as achieving success with the eye-catching breaks and, as he puts, “naughty snooker”.
The Englishman will be the clear favourite in Sunday’s final no matter who his last challenge will be and he will be doubly thankful of a day’s rest as Mark Allen and Ricky Walden do battle themselves in tomorrow’s second semi.