World Snooker Championship semi-finals
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Preview: World Snooker Championship Semi-Finals

Only two rounds separate the remaining four players from glory as the World Snooker Championship semi-finals get under on Thursday in Sheffield.

Two rounds might seem like an easy task, but the reality is that the quartet still in the hunt has each only won half of the frames required to lift the Crucible crown.

Who among you honestly predicted the last four line-up for this edition of the sport’s blue riband showpiece?

Perhaps Judd Trump represents the sole figure who a significant amount of people predicted to perform well in 2019.

The Masters champion faces surprise package Gary Wilson in his fourth career World Snooker Championship semi-finals affair.

Wilson became the first qualifier to embark on a run to the single table set-up since 2016 after another outstanding victory – this time against twice former runner-up Ali Carter.

On the other side of the draw, there are a couple of seeded players but arguably not the duo who would have been expected to make it this far at the outset.

David Gilbert’s best season at the age of 37 has an added gloss to it after bypassing Kyren Wilson in the quarter-finals to reach this point for the first time in his career.

Even the appearance of John Higgins, though it really shouldn’t be, is somewhat of a shock given the awful period of form he has endured since losing a gripping 2018 title decider against Mark Williams.

That final defeat was the four-time world champion’s second in succession in Sheffield, a painful reverse that led to him questioning his future in the game.

In dispatching Neil Robertson, arguably the outright favourite given the Australian’s incredible late-season standard, Higgins has proved the doubters, for once including even himself, totally wrong.

Higgins will be making his tenth appearance in the World Snooker Championship semi-finals, giving him an automatic advantage before the action against Gilbert even gets under way.

Interestingly, though, the latter is building up a credible case that he is indeed a formidable force to be reckoned with.

Gilbert, who has suffered defeat in three ranking event finals, accounted for Williams and Wilson in this tournament – the two players who denied him in title deciders this season.

The 37 year-old has a chance now to complete the perfect set of revenge victories as Higgins was the man to pip him in his maiden final way back in the 2015 International Championship.

The Englishman’s only triumph over Higgins in five attempts came in last season’s World Open and there’s no question that the “Angry Farmer” will be the underdog.

But who knows what will happen over what is now a four-session best of 33 frames tie, and this World Championship has already underlined that anything is possible.

A similar assessment could be derived from the other semi-final fixture between Trump and Wilson.

While Gilbert at least provided some clues that he could launch a serious challenge this year, Wilson’s run has come completely out of the blue.

It amazingly marks only the third time in the 33 year-old’s professional tenure that he has reached this latterly stage of proceedings in any ranking event.

Wilson has been written off by the vast majority in practically all three of his matches so far but he has rarely demonstrated the kind of nerves you’d expect from a newcomer to this scene.

In fact, Wilson has probably looked the most cool and composed out of everyone left in the draw.

How the 2015 China Open runner-up will cope now that the divide has been removed, with just one table taking centre stage as the Crucible really comes into its own as a fabulous venue, remains the obvious doubt.

And then there’s Trump – is this finally to be his year?

After surviving scares against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Ding Junhui, Trump shifted through the gears in a 13-6 hammering of Stephen Maguire on Wednesday.

The 29 year-old is considered to be one of the most gifted cueists to have never claimed the sport’s highest accolade.

There’s no questioning now his favourite tag and, if he plays like he has done this season, he’ll likely win the tournament.

Nerves can do terrible things, though, and the biggest question is whether the former world number one can hold himself together now that the ultimate prize is within his grasp.

Logic dictates that the final will be a repeat of 2011, the year when Trump announced himself to a mainstream audience with his brand of “naughty snooker” only to just came short against Higgins in an enthralling finale.

Yet, the 2019 World Championship has been anything but logical and it would be foolish to discount the possibility of more plot twists before the two finalists are set in stone come Saturday night.

Live coverage of the World Snooker Championship semi-finals is on the BBC, Eurosport, and on Facebook (selected countries).

Click here to view the draw.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: On This Day in Crucible History: May 2 - John Higgins and Judd Trump Entrance - SnookerHQ

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