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Players Championship: semi-finals preview, draw, and schedule

The Players Championship is down to its final four contenders with a quartet of Englishmen bidding for the title in Wolverhampton.

There is a £125,000 champion’s cheque up for grabs at the Aldersley Arena in what is the second event on this season’s Duelbits Series.

Ali Carter vs Joe O’Connor

Friday, 7pm GMT

The first Players Championship semi-final takes place later on Friday between recent German Masters champion Ali Carter and Scottish Open runner-up Joe O’Connor.

The latter emerged from a titanic tussle with Luca Brecel in the last eight, taking the last two frames with breaks of 125 and 57 to prevail in a decider.

Carter had a much easier time of it by contrast, running away with a 6-1 victory over last week’s Welsh Open victor Robert Milkins.

The Captain is not only on course to win a second ranking title in a season for the first time in his career, but it would also be the second in February following his triumph in Berlin.

O’Connor, meanwhile, is two matches away from a maiden ranking glory having gone so close in Edinburgh in December.

With his superior experience at this stage of competitions, Carter will undoubtedly be the favourite to progress to Sunday’s final.

But 27 year-old O’Connor has begun to demonstrate the qualities required to emerge as a genuine contender on a regular basis.

A semi-final victory would help his efforts to qualify for the prestigious Tour Championship, an eight-player event Carter is alright guaranteed to participate in.

Kyren Wilson vs Shaun Murphy

Saturday, 7pm GMT

Shaun Murphy played almost flawless snooker during his 6-0 thrashing of Ryan Day in the Players Championship quarter-finals on Thursday.

The Magician has bounced back strongly from the disappointment of losing Sunday’s Welsh Open final, with his display against Day boasting four century breaks and another break of 85.

Wilson wasn’t quite producing at that level but still managed a few big contributions of his own as he outplayed namesake Gary Wilson with a 6-1 effort.

The Kettering cueist has had a quiet enough season since winning the European Masters early in the campaign.

An inferior head-to-head record of four wins and eight defeats against Murphy would suggest he is going to have a tricky time of it in the last four.

The duo’s highest-profile clash occurred at the same stage of the 2021 World Championship when Murphy ran out a 17-12 winner at the Crucible Theatre.

If the nine-time ranking event winner continues with a similar pattern of power scoring, he’ll be a hard man to beat this weekend overall.

Featured photo credit: WST

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