Judd Trump continued his marvelous stretch of form by coming from behind to pip Shaun Murphy in a dramatic International Championship quarter-final in China.
The Englishman will play home favourite Ding Junhui in the last four on Friday after the Chinese no.1 produced an excellent performance in ousting the defending champion John Higgins 6-2.
Trump’s encounter with Murphy had a little bit of everything as the pair traded blow for blow before a thrilling final frame shoot-out.
The all-English battle began tentatively but it didn’t take too long for the sizable contributions to flow, as Trump countered Murphy’s four breaks over 70 with a hat-trick of tons.
The last of his centuries, a 119 in the tenth frame, forced the decider which lasted almost an hour as the pair combined missed opportunities with astute tactical play for a marathon conclusion of nail-biting drama.
Both players had many chances, particularly on the colours, before the seemingly inevitable black-ball climax ensued.
In the end, it was Trump who recorded an 18th win out of his last 19 matches with a gratefully presented straightforward pot under the circumstances.
The 27 year-old will meet Ding for the first time since losing to the Chinese no.1 in the World Championship second round in April.
Ding, already a multiple champion this season having tasted glory in both the Shanghai Masters and 6 Red World Championship, compiled a brace of centuries and four further breaks above 50 as he came from 2-0 down to rout Scotland’s Higgins.
The 29 year-old narrowly boasts a superior head-to-head record against Trump, the European Masters champion from earlier this month, and the pair represent arguably the most in-form cueists of the campaign so far, suggesting their semi-final tie could be a humdinger.
Ding, of course, will have a legion of fans supporting his cause as the arena is adjusted to a single table set-up.
With the semi-final format also increased to the best of 17 frames played across two sessions, there will be plenty of opportunity for twists and turns to occur.
In the bottom half of the draw, the top two ranked players in the world will face each other for the second final berth.
Mark Selby overcame Joe Perry 6-3 while Bingham held off a spirited comeback from Michael Holt to eventually prevail in a nervy 6-5 thriller.
Bingham scored the much heavier of the pair, knocking in a superb 131 along the way, but a mid-match wobble allowed his challenger in for a reprieve having trailed 4-0 at the mid-session interval.
The 2015 world champion eventually fell over the line after a tense finish in which both players wasted several chances.
Like Trump and Ding, both Selby and Bingham have enjoyed solid seasons up until this point.
Selby lifted the Paul Hunter Classic in August and reached the final of the Shanghai Masters while this is Bingham’s third appearance in the semi-final of a ranking event this term.
World champion Selby boasts the better record between the duo and, in fact, triumphed against the 40 year-old in their Shanghai semi-final meeting 6-5.
Thus, four of the world’s top six feature in what will surely be an entertaining conclusion to this year’s International Championship.
Hopefully the players will be able to compete in front of a big audience in Daqing, which for a second successive season has produced just sporadically decent crowd levels – at best.
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