Barry Hawkins booked a semi-final spot in the Players Championship after an absorbing 6-5 defeat of Yan Bingtao on Thursday in Wolverhampton.
In a high-quality affair that boasted four centuries and six additional runs above 50, the Hawk won the last two frames to progress.
Both players ended the contest with a pot-success rate of 95%, and Yan will feel particularly aggrieved having led at numerous points before the final blow was landed.
Hawkins, who qualified for the 16-player tournament as the bottom seed, will take on Ricky Walden for a berth in Sunday’s final, with this kind of form making him a genuine contender for the title.
“Not off the top of my head,” Barry Hawkins told the World Snooker Tour when asked if he’d played in a better encounter before.
“We both played really well, we both scored heavy with not many mistakes. I don’t think I’ve had many better best of elevens than that.”
“When you’re playing in a match like that and you’re both bouncing off each other, you don’t really think about what’s going on.
“So when someone outside is watching in I suppose they can see everything. Coming off now and thinking about it, it was a really good standard.
“He (Yan) butchered one long red, and that was the last red in the last frame. He’s such a strong all-round player – a great temperament, a great scorer, a great long potter.
“He’s still so young with so many years in front of him. Both he and Zhao are fantastic players, so the game’s in good hands.
“I felt pretty decent (in the deciding frame). If I got the chance, I was going to score. I potted a couple of good balls under pressure, and I was delighted to finish off in one visit.
“It’s a massive opportunity. I’ve grown up with Ricky on the snooker tour in the junior days, and we’ve been on the tour for what feels like forever.
“I don’t know how many times we’ve played each other over the years, but it’s been a lot, and I suppose we know each other’s games inside out.”
Players Championship Quarter-Finals
(Times in GMT)
Barry Hawkins 6-5 Yan Bingtao
Ricky Walden 6-5 Mark Williams
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Neil Robertson
John Higgins vs Jimmy Robertson
Live coverage continues on ITV4 across Ireland and the UK, with other options around the world available.
Featured photo credit: WST