Tour Championship semi-finals

Preview: Tour Championship Semi-Finals

The Tour Championship semi-finals will feature the top four seeds after the quarter-final stage reached its conclusion on Wednesday.

Neil Robertson had already booked his place in the last four following a gripping 9-8 triumph over Mark Selby on the opening day.

While it was always going to be difficult to match the drama that was conjured in that tie, what with the outcome being determined on the final black, Judd Trump and Mark Williams tried their best.

It appeared as though the world champion was set to advance before a late Trump rally proved the difference.

The latter fought back from 8-5 down, claiming the last four frames in a tense finish that also climaxed on the last colours.

Later on day two, number one seed Mark Allen held off a late revival from Kyren Wilson to prevail with a 9-7 scoreline and Ronnie O’Sullivan eased past his initial challenge courtesy of a more straightforward 9-3 defeat of Stuart Bingham.

What remains in the Tour Championship is arguably the best quartet from this season.

The foursome boasts eight ranking titles between them – two each – beginning with Robertson’s Riga Masters success at the outset of the campaign.

Among Allen’s victories was his lucrative International Championship win from November.

Trump and O’Sullivan, meanwhile, collected the silverware in the first two events that make up this Coral Cup series – the World Grand Prix and the Players Championship respectively.

All four are well capable of progressing from here to collect the £150,000 champion’s cheque that will be awarded on Sunday in Llandudno.

Favourite O’Sullivan faces Trump in what is sure to be a grandstand affair over the best of 19 frames.

The “Rocket” will be hoping to enact some revenge on his fellow Englishman after painful title deciding losses in both the Northern Ireland Open and especially the Masters.

Indeed, such is Trump’s lack of fear when playing O’Sullivan that he represents one of the few competitors on the circuit who has a relatively even head-to-head record with the five-time world champion.

O’Sullivan may have more than just a difficult opponent on his mind, for victory in this tournament would constitute a record-equalling 36th ranking crown and a return to the top spot in the world rankings for the first time since 2010.

Still, this kind of tournament is tailor-made for O’Sullivan and the longer matches, for all semi-finalists, could prove to be vital practice ahead of the World Championship next month in Sheffield.

The other clash sees Allen take on Robertson in what is a repeat of their final showdown in Daqing that went the way of the Northern Irishman.

Despite a mini mid-winter wobble, Allen is a strong front-runner for player of the season up until this point.

But Robertson has actually competed in the most ranking event finals, balancing two victories with a couple of defeats at that late stage.

The Australian once enjoyed a far superior head-to-head record against Allen but has actually been on the wrong end the last four occasions they’ve met – including three times this term.

Whatever happens over the next couple of day in Wales, it promises to be a fantastic conclusion to what is a terrific new event that celebrates the best current players in the world.

Live coverage of the semi-finals is on ITV4.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

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