News, Ranking, Tournaments

World Open: Semi-Final Preview

The final four contenders remain in the hunt for World Open glory this weekend as the tournament enters the single table set-up on Saturday.

Kyren Wilson (WS)
Wilson compiled 135, 127, and 102 century breaks. Photo credit: World Snooker

There was a lengthy sequence over the course of the last couple of seasons that saw all ranking event semi-finals feature at least one player aged in their forties at the last four stage.

However, the average age of the line-up left in Yushan is just 27, perhaps signalling a potential small shift in the guard of the sport.

Twenty-something year-olds Luca Brecel and Michael White have already bagged ranking titles this season, while another young talent in Anthony McGill reached the final of the Indian Open just last week.

Brecel, still only 22 despite it seeming like he has been around for an age, prevailed in a marathon last eight contest with McGill on Friday that finished well passed midnight local time.

The Belgian, winner of the China Championship last month, let slip an apparently comfortable position when he led 4-1 as McGill gallantly fought back despite not being at his best to force a decider.

It was all for nothing for the Scotsman, though, as Brecel eventually held his nerve with a timely 60 in the final frame to finally get over the winning post.

Brecel will face Ding Junhui in the semi-finals after the former world number one edged fellow Chinese Li Hang 5-3.

Ding trailed at the mid-session interval for the first time this week when Li, a semi-finalist in Guangzhou, threatened a huge upset in front of the former’s adoring fans.

However, a combination of Ding finding his scoring boots – two tons and a 72 break – and Li’s form crumbling to pieces helped the former reverse the scoreline for what transpired to be a pretty confident victory.

Ding and Brecel have met only twice before, with Ding winning both matches that were played over the shorter guise of best of seven frames – compared to these semi-finals, which will increase to best of 11.

Meanwhile, 25 year-old Kyren Wilson produced a scintillating display of snooker that comprised 503 unanswered points – just 53 shy of the world record – in dismantling Mark Williams 5-1.

Williams, buoyed by a recent success in the Six Red World Championship, opened the game impressively with a century, only to sit in his seat for the remainder of the affair as the Englishman barely missed a ball.

Wilson proceeded to construct a hat-trick of his own tons, along with a 71, as his illustrious Welsh opponent failed to score another point.

The World Games gold medallist from the summer will meet Mark Allen for a berth in the final after the Northern Irishman recorded a similar scoreline against David Gilbert.

There were no centuries – in fact, Allen only boasted one break of note above 50 – but the two-time World Open champion safely negotiated Gilbert’s challenge to move into the semi-finals of a ranking tournament for the first time since he won the Players Championship in the 2015/2016 campaign.

At 31, Allen represents the oldest competitor left in the draw this weekend.

Allen enjoys a narrowly superior head-to-head record with Wilson if you deduct their most recent clash in the short formatted Championship League, with the world number 11 coming out on top in three out of their five other meetings.

However, Wilson has arguably emerged triumphant in their two most high-profiled encounters.

The Kettering cueist beat Allen 6-1 in the semi-finals of the 2015 Shanghai Masters as he progressed to claim a maiden ranking trophy, and later that season overcame the “Pistol” in the second round of the World Championship at the Crucible.

Both semi-finals promise much, with all four players known for their attacking prowess in amongst the balls.

Live coverage continues on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw.

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