Neil Robertson remains the big favourite at the European Masters semi-final stage in Austria this weekend.
The Australian produced a scintillating display of heavy scoring to beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-1 in Friday’s quarter-finals.
Robertson compiled a hat-trick of tons as well as a run of 87 to see off the challenge of the Thai.
The 37 year-old is the sole remaining player left in the tournament who is ranked inside the world’s top 16.
Ali Carter, who could return to the elite bracket when the ranking list is revised following the conclusion of this ranking event, is the Melbourne man’s next opponent.
Carter’s response from narrowly missing out on a maiden success in the Masters last weekend has been swift.
Indeed, the “Captain” has grown in confidence again as this week has progressed and the 40 year-old is into the semi-final stage of a ranking event for the first time in almost a year.
Carter thumped Scott Donaldson by the same four-frame margin to set up his European Masters semi-final clash against Robertson.
The latter will undoubtedly be the man expected to advance to the final but both are experienced winners on the Main Tour.
Robertson boasts the superior head-to-head advantage but the pair hasn’t met since 2017.
While Robertson and Carter have amassed 20 ranking titles between them, the same certainly can’t be said about the last four fixture on the opposite side of the draw.
Gary Wilson and birthday boy Zhou Yuelong have taken advantage of a somewhat weakened field to prolong their challenge of claiming a first ranking crown.
That said, in the last round they both accounted for seasoned performers, albeit each struggling for top form of late, in Marco Fu and Barry Hawkins respectively.
Wilson, who fired in three century breaks in a 5-3 defeat of Fu, has experienced a meteoric rise up the pecking order in the last year, initiated by his shock run to the semi-finals of the World Championship.
By triumphing in the next couple of days, the 34 year-old would break into the top 16 for the first time in his career.
Gary Wilson’s carefree attitude bore fruit as he produced three tons on his way to victory over Marco Fu.
He’s hoping to stay in Dornbirn a while longer yet…
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) January 24, 2020
Zhou, meanwhile, has long been tipped as a potential star and a competitor from the budding crop of Chinese cueists who are emerging as more serious threats.
After watching his former World Cup winning partner Yan Bingtao capture his maiden ranking glory in Riga last summer, Zhou will want to prove his worth on the circuit too.
Zhou and Wilson have only encountered each other once before, six years ago in the now defunct European Tour.
There’ll likely be plenty of nerves on show as they make a rare appearance at this latterly stage of a competition.
Crowds in Dornbirn improved on the third day and it promises to be an atmospheric climax to the European Masters.
Along with the German Masters, Snooker Shoot Out, and the Gibraltar Open, this event helps to make up the new European Series in which the highest earner across all four tournaments will receive a £150,000 bonus.