Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump remain on course for a third final meeting of the season after contrasting quarter-final victories in the World Grand Prix on Friday.
O’Sullivan wasn’t at all pleased despite beating Scotland’s Graeme Dott 4-1 in Llandudno, describing his standard of play as ‘diabolical’.
Indeed, the ‘Rocket’ has struggled to achieve his best form since since losing heavily in the semi-finals of the Masters at the outset of 2015 but still had enough in reserve to overcome a similarly poor Dott.
Despite O’Sullivan’s questionable display, with a high break of just 58 to his name, the world no.3 will be pleased to have negotiated the opening three rounds which are played under the short best-of-seven format.
Now, the invitation event enters the business end of proceedings, where the encounters get longer and the prize money becomes more rewarding.
O’Sullivan will face Stuart Bingham in the best-of-11 semi-final after ‘Ballrun’ ousted Mark Davis with a comfortable 4-0 scoreline.
After edging the first one the final black, Bingham was rarely in trouble and set up another high-profile clash against O’Sullivan.
The pair have met in each of the last two Champion of Champions and UK Championship tournaments, three of which O’Sullivan went on to win the title in.
Bingham had a golden opportunity to upset the 39 year-old and reach the final of the recent York edition but stumbled with the winning line in sight – eventually losing 6-5 as Ronnie went into the final to claim his fifth UK crown.
In that final, O’Sullivan withstood a mountainous comeback from Judd Trump to prevail 10-9 and, having also beaten the young pretender in Coventry at the Champion of Champions, the pair could be in line for a third tussle.
Trump needed all seven frames and the last black to pip Mark Williams in a dramatic last eight clash on Friday night that disappointed the big Welsh crowd gunning for a home triumph.
It gained revenge for defeats in the Welsh and Indian Opens in recent weeks as Williams’ form continues to fall short of any major trophy success.
Completing the all-England semi-final line-up, Trump will do battle with Martin Gould for a place in Sunday’s showdown after the Pinner potter outgunned Peter Ebdon 4-2.
It marks a welcome return for Gould, who had struggled with some health problems of late but appears to be back fighting fit and, with two further wins, could be set for his biggest payday.
The semi-finals will be live on ITV4 at 1pm and 7pm GMT.