European Masters semi-finals
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Preview: European Masters Semi-Finals

An unexpected European Masters semi-finals line-up in Belgium sees three veterans over the age of 40 and a player featuring at this stage of a ranking event for the first time in his career competing for glory.

European Masters semi-finals
Can Hamilton, at 47, win another ranking title? Photo credit: World Snooker

Joe Perry, Mark King, and Anthony Hamilton are all looking to add to their tallies of just one ranking event crowns across their long tenures in the sport.

Jimmy Robertson, meanwhile, at 32 represents the youngest competitor remaining and the Englishman continued his unbelievable run with a 4-2 triumph over Mark Allen on Friday.

It was the first match in the event in which Robertson wasn’t taken the distance and the first time in Lommel that he wasn’t forced to clinch victory on the final black.

Robertson has been a talented pro on the circuit for the best part of a decade but, while he has often excelled in the qualifiers or on the side tables at events, when placed on a TV table he has usually struggled to perform to his capabilities.

The world number 36 has the opportunity to change that record this weekend when he contests a high-profile encounter at the business end of a tournament for the first time.

There’ll be nowhere to hide as the venue transforms into the usual single table set-up for this stage of proceedings with Robertson due to meet King for a place in the final.

King prolonged his impressive run by overcoming Ryan Day to reach the European Masters semi-finals, with the latter and Allen’s demise ensuring that there will be no top 16 members in the last four.

King, like Hamilton and Perry on the opposite side of the draw, is bidding to add to a sole ranking success with the 44 year-old’s only triumph memorably occurring almost two years ago in the Northern Ireland Open.

Not many would have expected any of the trio to be contesting for major silverware again but there’s now a golden opportunity for an unlikely second trophy for one of them.

King and Robertson have only a couple of meetings in the Snooker Shoot Out and one in the now defunct Asian Tour to recall upon but the elder statesman will be hoping his experience will prove the deciding factor.

That said, Robertson’s streak has been so crazy that if ever there was a trophy that already had a player’s name etched on it, it was in this year’s edition of the European Masters.

The pair on the opposite side of the draw will obviously have something to say about that with Perry and Hamilton renewing a head-to-head that dates all the way back to the 1993 Welsh Open.

Perry and Hamilton boast more than five decades of professional competitive snooker between them so they’ll be well-prepared for the occasion and the rewards that it could bring.

That said, at this junction of their careers there might not be many moments like this left so the pressure will be on both men to fully seize the day.

The duo each emerged from tight quarter-final clashes that went the full seven frames with former German Masters champion Hamilton holding off Jack Lisowski in a scrappy and error-strewn affair and Perry denying Tian Pengfei.

It’s difficult to choose a winner from this semi-final because on paper they are relatively evenly matched and it will likely come down to who can settle the fastest.

Either way, it’s going to be a surprising showdown for the £70,000 champion’s cheque on Sunday.

Live coverage of the European Masters semi-finals is on Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

 



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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the World Snooker Championship – won by Mark Selby.

1. Judd Trump
2. Mark Selby
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Shaun Murphy
6. Kyren Wilson
7. John Higgins
8. Ding Junhui
9. Stephen Maguire
10. Yan Bingtao
11. Mark Williams
12. Mark Allen
13. Barry Hawkins
14. Jack Lisowski
15. Stuart Bingham
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy