World Grand Prix Semi-final

World Grand Prix Semi-Final Preview

Englishmen Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins will face each other in the World Grand Prix semi-final at the Cheltenham Racecourse this weekend.

Ali Carter and Xiao Guodong meet in the opening last four clash that takes place later on Friday.

The somewhat unusual scheduling for events that are broadcast by ITV means that there is no snooker action on Saturday afternoon – with Trump and Hawkins playing their fixture tomorrow evening.

Trump continued his fine start to 2019 with a comprehensive 5-1 hammering of Mark Selby as the quarter-finals concluded on Friday afternoon.

The recent Masters champion began this week slowly but has gathered momentum after surviving tight duels with Stuart Carrington and Tom Ford.

In fact, Trump looked every bit the new tournament favourite as he booked his place in the World Grand Prix semi-final with a dominant hiding of the world number one.

Hawkins prolonged his run with a solid 5-2 success against German Masters winner Kyren Wilson.

With four centuries, Hawkins is arguably playing the best snooker of anyone this week but it’s almost his trademark to move along in competitions under the radar.

Both Hawkins and Trump are previous champions of the World Grand Prix, with the latter triumphing in the inaugural staging back in 2015 before the “Hawk” etched his name on the trophy two years later.

The pair has a relatively even head-to-head record with Hawkins perhaps surprisingly holding the advantage with five wins from their nine previous encounters.

Three of those meetings also occurred in semi-finals with their biggest battle occurring in the 2016 Masters, when Hawkins prevailed courtesy of a 6-4 scoreline.

It’s difficult to look past Trump on this season’s overall form but it would be foolish to ever write off Hawkins and this one could well be a dramatic tussle that finishes late on Saturday night.

For either Carter or Xiao, the winner will gain a potentially beneficial day off ahead of Sunday’s final showdown.

Carter has reached the World Grand Prix semi-final having lost only two frames in the last two rounds.

His last 16 victory over Mark Allen generated some controversy after the latter conceded with more than 100 points still available on the table.

Conditions on table one have proved to be difficult and the Northern Irishman’s frustrations got the better of him as he offered an early handshake in defeat.

Carter ironically has been the butt of many jokes down through the years for possessing a less than composed temperament when things aren’t going his own way.

But the “Captain” has managed the surroundings well this week and overcame an in-form David Gilbert in another scrappy affair with an equally comfortable 5-1 scoreline.

Xiao’s progress has been more strenuous, emerging from a pair of tense deciders either side of a more resounding defeat of Mark Davis in round two.

The 29 year-old’s final frame victories over Neil Robertson and Yuan Sijun couldn’t have been much more different, though.

The Chinese’s 4-3 triumph over Australia’s Robertson was a high-quality affair that boasted seven breaks above 50.

By contrast, the 5-4 defeat of his young countryman in the last eight was a turgid contest that couldn’t be forgotten quicker.

In any case, Xiao has put himself within two wins of a maiden ranking event victory and a huge £100,000 payday.

Carter, who has reached the last four of a ranking tournament for the first time in a year and a half, will obviously still be the favourite, though, given his far superior experience.

The head-to-head record marginally favours the 39 year-old too, with Carter winning two out of their previous three battles – including a first round clash at the World Championship five years ago.

Live World Grand Prix semi-final coverage continues on ITV 4.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

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