Mark King is now just two victories away from capturing a second ranking title of his long career.
The 47 year-old took advantage of a sloppy performance from Judd Trump, ending the hopes of the reigning champion with a quarter-final victory in the English Open on Friday.
It represents the Englishman’s first run to this stage of a ranking tournament since the 2018 European Masters and comes at a timely moment when it appeared as though he was getting dragged into a tour survival scrap in the world rankings.
Heading into this week’s Home Nations competition, King hovered just above the top 64 cut-off point in the provisional end-of-season standings but is now guaranteed earnings of £20,000 that will definitely safeguard his status.
Of course, in the more immediate future King will be hoping to etch his name onto another piece of silverware and add the Steve Davis Trophy to the Alex Higgins Trophy he raised aloft in 2016.
“Playing the top boys, it shows you were your game is at,” former Northern Ireland Open champion Mark King told the World Snooker Tour after his 5-3 triumph over the world number one.
“Even though Judd played nowhere near his best, I felt as though I sort of battled well, I won a couple of scrappy frames.”
“When they are not firing on all cylinders you have to take your chances, and I feel as though I did that and capitalised on his mistakes.
“I want to be here on Sunday night with all my family and my dad again to prove that I can lift another title – that’s why we carry on playing.
“Most players, some of them do, but most players don’t come to make the numbers up. We all come because we still think we can win, and we still think that we’ve got a lot to give the game.
“It was just lovely to be out there with a packed crowd, there were a few tuts and a few good claps, and just (having) the atmosphere again. It has been really poor with no crowds in – a bit numbing at times – but just to have a packed crowd was amazing.
“I’ve been working hard and practicing hard, you just want what you’re putting in on the practice table to come out on main table.
“Even though I didn’t play amazing, I felt as though I battled well and my safety was really good as always. It’s nice to come through and beat any of the top players, but Judd’s a fantastic role model for young kids playing snooker.
“He’s a great bloke and was very complimentary after, said ‘well done’ and that, and that’s just the kind of guy he is, a real gentleman. He deserves his number one ranking and any scalp of the top boys is a great scalp.”
King’s attempt to land the £70,000 top prize doesn’t get any easier with Neil Robertson now standing in his way of a berth in the English Open final.
The other last-four clash sees one of the sport’s greatest rivalries rekindle for its latest chapter as Ronnie O’Sullivan does battle with John Higgins at the Marshall Arena.
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Featured image credit: WST