Welsh Open: Semi-Final Preview

Judd Trump cleared the colours to beat Barry Hawkins 5-4 on the final black to reach the semi-finals of the Welsh Open in Cardiff.

Judd Trump Masters 2016
Trump compiled a brace of centuries in round one but has failed to hit any since then. Photo credit: Monique Limbos

In an often nervy affair, the Englishman had to rely on his battling qualities as his normally reliable scoring prowess deserted him.

Trump established a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval but Hawkins, bidding for a second successive ranking event title following his success in the World Grand Prix last Sunday, compiled three half-centuries to seemingly take control of the contest at 4-3.

After Trump forced the decider, a dramatic final frame shoot-out ensued, with Hawkins rattling effectively match ball yellow to the middle pocket to gift his opponent the opportunity to clear the table and move into the last four.

Trump will meet the unheralded Scott Donaldson for a place in the final at the Mororpoint Arena after the Scot continued his impressive streak with a whitewash win over Zhou Yuelong.

The 22 year-old has yet to face a top 16 member en route to his maiden appearance at this late stage of a ranking event, but all five victories have come against higher ranked opposition – including Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King in the second round.

Donaldson has been on the circuit since 2012 when he captured the European Amateur Championship, and he now looks on course to break into the top 64 in the world rankings for the first time in his career with the £20,000 he has guaranteed himself in Wales.

Trump and Donaldson have never met each other in professional competition but the former will obviously be the overwhelming favourite to progress to what would be a third ranking event final of the campaign for the former world number one.

Meanwhile, the second semi-final encounter will be between Stuart Bingham and Robert Milkins.

While Milkins is embarking on a run to the last four of a ranking tournament for the sixth time in his career, Saturday’s bout will represent Bingham’s fifth appearance at this stage of this campaign alone.

That the 2015 world champion has been unable to translate that into silverware will undoubtedly have proved irksome, especially as the 40 year-old has been denied final berths in several close ties.

Bingham avoided a late rally from namesake Stuart Carrington in the quarter-finals, almost squandering a 4-0 cushion before eventually scrambling past the winning post 5-3.

The 2013 runner-up will be hoping to use his experience against a challenger in Milkins who will, in turn, be seeking to ride the current wave of glory for first-time champions on the circuit.

Milkins overcame Kurt Maflin 5-2 to set up the clash of 11 frames with his fellow Englishman.

The head-to-head record is strongly in favour of Bingham, who has prevailed in five out of their six previous meetings, including during this season’s English Open when he came from 3-1 down to deny the “Milkman” in a decider.

All signs point to a Trump versus Bingham showdown on Sunday but, even so, the evidence has suggested that no prediction can be taken for granted this week.

Click here to view the draw.

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