Mark Selby and Ding Junhui remain on course for a repeat of their epic World Championship final contest after each emerging from tough last eight ties at the Shanghai Masters on Friday.
World no.1 Selby edged Ryan Day 5-3 while Ding ended Michael Holt’s excellent run with a victory of the same margin.
Selby wasn’t at his best, recording only one break above 50 in the contest, but was able to turn to his reliable B-game to see him through to the last four.
The 2011 champion will face the 2014 winner for a berth in the final after Stuart Bingham dominated his encounter with fellow Englishman Ali Carter.
Carter, so impressive as he triumphed in the World Open earlier in the campaign, couldn’t get out of first gear and Bingham took full advantage to see out a comfortable 5-1 success.
Ding, meanwhile, will take on a resurgent Stephen Maguire on Saturday following a 5-1 defeat of Michael White for the Scot.
The partisan crowd will obviously be on Ding’s side as he attempts to win in Shanghai for the second time, but Maguire has arguably been the player of the tournament so far.
The five-time ranking event champion wasn’t able to compile as many big breaks as had been the norm in his previous ties this week, but Maguire continued his fine form with a fourth win in as many days.
Maguire, of course, began the event in magnificent fashion by knocking in a 147 break en route to a whitewash win in his wildcard round.
The 35 year-old and Ding have a fairly even head-to-head record but the latter has dominated their most recent exchanges in ranking events.
Selby and Bingham also have a relatively even record against each other but somewhat surprisingly, considering they are the top two ranked players in the world, the pair hasn’t crossed paths since 2013.
Two compelling semi-finals in store then on the penultimate day in China as the format increases to the best of 11 frames.
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