Cheltenham Final
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Ali Carter Flies into Cheltenham Final

Ali Carter demolished Xiao Guodong 6-0 on Friday to become the first player through to the Cheltenham final of the World Grand Prix.

Cheltenham Final
Carter has lost only five frames en route to the Cheltenham final. Photo credit: World Snooker

The opening semi-final encounter provided an unexpected line-up after several of the top seeds bowed out in the early rounds.

However, Carter took full advantage of his opportunity to reach a first ranking event final in two years with a dominant display against the Chinese competitor.

A break of 54 helped the “Captain” establish an early lead before an unanswered run of 382 points provided the 39 year-old with all four frames before the mid-session interval.

Carter produced some of his best snooker in a while as he reeled off breaks of 99, 71, and 126 to permanently consign his opponent to his seat.

Xiao had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the fifth frame but missed out as Carter extended his advantage after sinking a re-spotted black.

The latter duly wrapped up proceedings in the next frame for a resounding passage through to the Cheltenham final.



Carter’s simple success, coupled with the fact that he will enjoy a complete day off on Saturday while the remaining last four clash takes place, could stand him in good stead for Sunday’s showdown for glory.

The Englishman will be bidding for a fifth ranking title and first since 2016, when he captured the World Open in Yushan.

Carter, twice a World Championship runner-up, is guaranteed at least £40,000 – a sum that should guarantee his place in the second leg of the inaugural Coral Cup series.

While the World Grand Prix featured the top 32 on the one-year rankings list, the upcoming Players Championship in March will boast only the top 16, before the best eight contest the series-finale Tour Championship.

Of course, Carter will have aspirations of collecting the champion’s cheque worth £100,000.

In the Cheltenham final, Carter will face either Judd Trump or Barry Hawkins, who face off in the second semi-final fixture on Saturday 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, meanwhile, 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 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 results in a late finish.

Live coverage continues on ITV 4.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)



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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the Northern Ireland Open – won by Mark Allen.

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

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy