The Englishman is the favourite for glory this week but took a while to get going in his quarter-final fixture in Milton Keynes.
Judd Trump beat John Higgins 9-4 to reach the Tour Championship semi-finals at the Marshall Arena on Sunday.
Both players struggled to produce top form for the majority of the fixture, in what was a repeat of the World Championship final from just over a year ago.
On Saturday, Stephen Maguire and Neil Robertson combined for a record eight centuries breaks between them in a best of 17 frames affair.
But the pockets didn’t seem to react as generously on day two, with sizable contributions much harder to come by.
Indeed, a thoroughly scrappy opening session boasted just one break each above 50, with Trump establishing a 5-3 advantage at the halfway point.
The world champion upped his performance levels upon the restart when runs of 67, 53, and 135 brought him to within the brink of the last four.
Higgins held on to reach the last mid-session interval, but Trump was not to be denied and a break of 68 ultimately sealed the victory.
There was once a time when Trump struggled against the Scot, but such is the world number one’s improvement that he has now ousted Higgins the last five times they have crossed paths in ranking events.
With £40,000 in the account for reaching the Tour Championship semi-finals, Trump not only edges closer to a seventh ranking success of this term but additionally to claiming the £100,000 bonus on offer for topping the Coral Cup standings.
In what is the last leg of the Coral Series, Trump will face Maguire for a place in Friday’s final.
🗣 “Seven events certainly would be very difficult to be beat”@judd147t became the first ever player to win six ranking events in a single season when he lifted the Gibraltar Open trophy behind closed doors in March.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) June 21, 2020
Meanwhile, there will be action in the bottom half of the draw before that with Mark Selby and Yan Bingtao up next on Monday.
They share one win apiece from their previous encounters, but both of those took place over the much shorter best of seven frames guise.
Live coverage of the Tour Championship in the UK and Ireland is on ITV4, while there are various other methods of tuning in around the world.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST