Shaun Murphy narrowly beat Luca Brecel 6-5 in a match of huge drama to reach the semi-finals of the UK Championship in York.
After sharing the opening eight frames in a topsy-turvy affair, Brecel took the lead in the ninth as it became evident that his more experienced opponent was beginning to feel the pressure of playing the rising superstar of the sport.
Both players wasted numerous opportunities in the final couple of frames but the outcome of the exciting contest ultimately came down to a brace of failed pinks from the 17 year-old Belgian.
Twice the young maestro had the final pink, effectively frame and match ball on both occasions, wobble in the jaws of the pocket, one in each of the last two frames.
Murphy duly mopped up his pair of second lifelines, before subsequently mopping the sweat off his brow following a clash where he was firmly under the cosh throughout.
After being applauded out of the arena by both the exuberant fans and Murphy alike, Brecel took to Facebook to express his feelings of pride for his displays this week – and so he should feel proud.
In fact, while some may see it as a missed opportunity, the result may actually be a blessing in disguise, as to have gotten further and be defeated heavily, or even to have won the event outright, may have been too overwhelming for a player and person of such little experience as Brecel – both on the baize and in life.
This is a battle scar, but it’s not that damaging of one at the end of the day and by being crowned champion he would have been exposed to an unquantifiable amount of media attention he may not have been able to handle.
For Murphy, it was a case of falling over the line. He didn’t play well at all really and it typified his general performances at this stage of tournaments over the last few years – indeed, since his victory in this event in 2008.
The former world champion tends to lose a lot of quarter and semi-finals and will need to considerably raise his game to overcome Ali Carter for a place in Sunday’s final.
Carter was solid in his triumph over the in-form Stuart Bingham, recording a 6-4 success over the recent Premier League winner.
This time last year the ‘Captain’ contemplated retirement, both because of a poor run of form and his complementary battle with Crohn’s disease.
However, Carter has been galvanised by reaching the final of the World Championship for a second time and this week has ensured that 2012 has been rather decent for the 33 year-old.
The evening session was no less dramatic but there was a distinct lack of quality in both matches.
Leicester’s Mark Selby came from 4-0 down to mount a sensational 6-4 comeback victory over Neil Robertson.
Everyone knows the master of brinkmanship that is Selby but nobody would have ever expected someone of the class of Australia’s Robbo to squander such a commanding lead.
The result could hurt Robertson, a former world number one who has being bigging up his chances of reclaiming that coveted position before the end of the campaign – while the result means that Selby himself is still in the hunt to immediately regain his place the summit of the standings from Judd Trump.
Meanwhile, Mark Davis impressively reached the third semi-final of a ranking event in his career – all of which coming this season – after the 40 year-old beat Matthew Stevens 6-4.
The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.