Mark Selby remains on course for a first title on home soil for almost two and a half years after he reached the English Open semi-finals on Friday.
The “Jester from Leicester” has struggled for top form in the last couple of seasons, other than from a few standout performances that brought him silverware in China.
It looked as though Selby was going to bow out of another Home Nations tournament, a series in which he has generally failed to impress in, when he trailed Ronnie O’Sullivan’s conqueror Mei Xiwen 3-0 in the last eight.
But Selby dug deep in trademark fashion, winning a crucial last frame before the mid-session interval to get on the scoreboard before proceeding to take the remaining four frames upon the resumption for victory.
Mark Allen stands in the way of the 36 year-old reaching a Home Nations final for the first time in his career.
Allen, who triumphed in the Scottish Open last December, had a more comfortable outing as he dispatched of Lee Walker courtesy of a 5-1 scoreline.
The Northern Irishman is the only non-English player left in the field who is bidding to etch his name on the Steve Davis Trophy.
Allen and Selby have nine meaningful contests to look back upon and the head-to-head is relatively even with the former leading 5-4.
All of their previous ties have come in the latter stages of tournaments and an incredible seven of their prior battles have lasted the distance.
In fact, all six occasions the duo has met over the best of 11 frames – the format being utilised for the English Open semi-finals – the scoreboard at the end of the affair has read 6-5.
💬 “I fully deserved to be 3-0 down”
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) October 18, 2019
The other fixture in the last four sees David Gilbert face Tom Ford, with both competitors remaining on course to secure a maiden ranking crown.
Gilbert withstood a stern challenge from a resurgent Ricky Walden in the quarter-finals, eventually overcoming the three-time ranking event winner after a terrific duel that required all nine frames.
By contrast, maximum man Ford enjoyed the easiest pathway through as he surged past Tian Pengfei with an easy 5-0 pasting.
Top 16 member Gilbert, who has two runners-up placings and a run to the World Championship semi-finals under his belt from the last year or so, will undoubtedly begin this match as the favourite.
Ford, though, is in a confident mood, particularly after his second 147 of the season on Thursday, and can be a dangerous opponent on his day.
The former Paul Hunter Classic finalist has won their only previous clash, in the World Championship qualifiers four years ago.
For Gilbert, Ford, and Selby, there’s not only the £70,000 winner’s cheque to play for but also a potentially rich invitation to the Champion of Champions in Coventry next month.
Live coverage of the English Open semi-finals is on Eurosport and Quest TV.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)