Four of the best players in the world are left vying for glory in the first Home Nations series event of the 2020/21 campaign.
The English Open semi-finals stage boasts a stellar line-up with a quartet of former world champions still in the hunt for the £70,000 top prize.
Judd Trump, Mark Selby, John Higgins, and Neil Robertson all came through their respective quarter-final tests with relative ease on Friday at the Marshall Arena.
It marks the first time in the history of the Home Nations series that the last four contenders are all ranked inside the top eight in the official world rankings.
That world number seven Higgins is a four-time world champion should go some way to underlining the elevated level.
Indeed, the fearsome foursome have accumulated a staggering 83 ranking event trophies between them during their illustrious careers.
Each of them has triumphed in a Home Nations tournament in the past, with Trump, Selby, and Robertson all bidding for a third crown and Higgins hoping to add to his sole success from the 2018 Welsh Open.
In fact, that victory represents the last of the Scot’s career ranking titles as he has been stuck on a total of 30 for almost three years.
Higgins faces Trump in his English Open semi-finals clash, a head-to-head battle that has been transformed in recent seasons.
A decade ago Higgins often had Trump’s number, but the latter has turned his fortunes around in recent seasons with a succession of standout victories over the “Wizard of Wishaw”.
Since spectacularly overcoming Higgins to claim his maiden world title in 2019, Trump has a 100% winning record from their five meetings.
The world number one rode his luck early on in this event, battling back from the brink of defeat several times in his first few matches, so there could be a sense that his name is on the trophy already.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 16, 2020
That said, the same could be true of the reigning English Open champion on the opposite side of the draw in Selby.
The “Jester” has also highlighted his master of brinkmanship moniker with a couple of trademark fight backs, and it’s fair to say that the disappointment of losing a dramatic World Championship semi-final to Ronnie O’Sullivan in August is well and truly behind him.
Selby actually hasn’t lost a single game this season so far, triumphing in the European Masters and topping his Championship League group with an undefeated record before continuing his good run of form this week.
His opponent at the penultimate round, though, produced the most devastating performance of the lot in the last eight.
Robertson compiled a hat-trick of century breaks to dislodge the challenge of Robbie Williams, including a tournament-high run of 140.
The Australian will be hoping to enact a modicum of revenge on Selby for his limp defeat to the three-time world champion at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield a couple of months ago.
In Robertson’s favour is a superior head-to-head record overall, but it’s close and it would probably be a surprise to see either of them pull away for a comfortable win on Saturday.
A couple of firecracker English Open semi-finals to look forward to then, with the action set to be covered live on Eurosport, Quest, and Matchroom.Live (depending on your location).
Click here to view the draw. (External Site -Times in CET)
Featured photo credit: WST