The Scottish Open of the inaugural Home Nations series is down to its final four players in Glasgow.
Hopes of a home victory remain high after John Higgins comfortably outplayed Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight on Friday.
The Scot will play Judd Trump for a place in the final, with the winner guaranteed a clash against an Asian competitor as Marco Fu takes on surprise package Yu Delu.
Higgins will surely begin the weekend as the favourite for glory on home turf after what has already been a wonderful end of 2016 for the 41 year-old.
The four-time world champion won both the lucrative China Championship and Champion of Champions invitationals in November, before compiling an eighth career 147 break.
In Glasgow, just around 15 miles away from his home in Wishaw, Higgins has surrendered just three frames despite taking aim at the organisers for poor playing conditions.
After his 5-2 triumph over the ‘Rocket’ in the quarter-final, Higgins furiously lashed out at Barry Hearn and Jason Ferguson for failing to listen to the wishes of the players to recloth the tables more often during events.
Ironically, abject conditions would arguably suit Higgins the most out of all the players on the Main Tour – aside perhaps world number one Mark Selby – as he possesses one of the most efficient all-round arsenals.
The tables will be worked on before Saturday’s semi-finals, in which Higgins renews another rivalry with an Englishman.
Higgins and Trump have met in several high-profile encounters in the last number of years, with the former’s closely-fought victories in the 2011 World Championship and 2012 Shanghai Masters finals immediately springing to mind.
The pair has already met four times this season with Trump winning three of those, including at the European Masters en route to lifting the trophy in Romania.
Higgins, though, prevailed in their latest clash – a thrilling high scoring 6-4 affair which set Higgins on his way to success in Coventry a month ago.
Of course, Trump will have to also contest the following of support that Higgins is likely to receive, albeit the atmosphere generated inside the Emirates Arena so far wouldn’t exactly send a visiting opponent ducking for cover.
The Scottish Open hasn’t been the best attended event up until this point and even when the crowds have turned up the atmosphere has hardly been electric – even for local star Higgins.
Meanwhile, the second semi-final comprises Hong Kong’s Fu and Yu Delu of China, who is featuring at this stage of a ranking event for the first time in his career after pipping countryman Liang Wenbo in a tense quarter-final decider.
Fu, on the other hand, has been at his supreme best this week, possibly laying claim to being the player of the tournament.
The 38 year-old, chasing a third ranking title, continued his powerful scoring streak in this competition with a resounding 5-1 success over Mark Davis that included a 132 century break.
That was his eighth ton of the tournament, having already compiled the two highest breaks of 142 and 141 in earlier rounds.
Fu will naturally begin his tie with Yu as favourite, not only because of his form in the last few days but also for the fact that his opponent has never beaten him in three attempts.
That said, Yu’s progress has been nothing short of remarkable having emerged from all five encounters this week in deciders.
The 29 year-old will be riding a wave of confidence in which he surely is now starting to believe he is becoming invincible, but he will likely have to step up the attacking side of his game if he’s to truly challenge an in-form Fu on Saturday.
Both semi-finals will be played over the best of 11 frames with coverage continuing on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Categories: Snooker News