The British Open is down to its final four contenders with the semi-finals taking place on Saturday in Cheltenham.
Two more victories are required to attain the trophy at The Centaur and a champion’s cheque worth £100,000.
Mark Williams vs Hossein Vafaei
Saturday, 1pm BST
Mark Williams and Hossein Vafaei will contest the opening last-four clash on Saturday afternoon.
Williams produced a string of big breaks, including two century contributions, to beat Fan Zhengyi 5-1 during Friday’s quarter-finals.
The Welshman won the British Open two years ago when the tournament was resurrected after a 17-year absence from the calendar.
Having already finished runner-up in a ranking event this season, Williams will be hoping to go one better this weekend.
Against Vafaei, the 48 year-old comes up against a formidable talent who is starting to perform more consistently at the top of the game.
That is reflected in the rankings, with the Iranian flirting with a regular spot in the top 16 of the world rankings list.
Vafaei’s only previous ranking success came at the 2022 Snooker Shoot Out, when he beat Williams in the final to seal glory.
But that represented the 28 year-old’s only triumph in five previous meetings with the three-time world champion, who will certainly enter this intriguing best-of-11 showdown as the favourite.
Mark Selby vs Xiao Guodong
Saturday, 7pm BST
The second encounter in the semi-finals of the British Open will be between Mark Selby and Xiao Guodong on Saturday evening.
Selby survived another deciding-frame battle in his quarter-final fixture on day five, pipping local lad Jack Lisowski 5-4.
The Jester remains on course to secure a 23rd career ranking trophy, and somewhat peculiarly, it would be a first title when the event’s host broadcaster is ITV.
His opponent in the last four is undoubtedly the outsider of the four remaining contenders.
Xiao, however, compiled a magnificent 140 total clearance in the last frame to beat Tom Ford 5-3 and reach this point.
The Chinese competitor has twice been a ranking event finalist but has never managed to etch his name onto silverware.
It has been a strong start to the 2023/24 season for the 34 year-old, who has lost just two of the 20 matches he’s been involved in.
Selby boasts the superior record from their head-to-head statistics, although when Championship League ties are taken away from the equation, the advantage reads 5-3 in the Leicester man’s favour.
British Open draw and schedule
(held over fixtures)
Robert Milkins 4-2 Jiang Jun
Judd Trump 4-2 Anton Kazakov
Ali Carter 4-3 Allan Taylor
Luca Brecel 3-4 Ding Junhui
Gary Wilson 4-1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed
Neil Robertson 4-1 Jamie Clarke
Mark Allen 4-1 Anthony McGill
Mark Williams 4-1 Peng Yisong
Mark Selby 4-2 Ben Woollaston
Ryan Day 4-0 Sean O’Sullivan
Kyren Wilson 4-1 Martin O’Donnell
Steven Hallworth 0-4 Jimmy Robertson
Shaun Murphy 4-1 Rebecca Kenna
Jack Lisowski 4-3 Joe O’Connor
John Higgins 4-1 Long Zehuang
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Stan Moody
Xu Si 4-0 Ali Carter
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 1-4 Oliver Lines
Ma Hailong 4-0 Mohamed Ibrahim
Yuan Sijun 4-0 Ben Mertens
Judd Trump 3-4 Hammad Miah
Oliver Brown 2-4 Hossein Vafaei
Lyu Haotian 3-4 David Gilbert
Noppon Saengkham 2-4 Fergal O’Brien
Si Jiahui 4-1 Neil Robertson
Stephen Maguire 2-4 Mark Williams
Scott Donaldson 4-0 Liam Graham
Jamie Jones 0-4 Julien Leclercq
Robert Milkins 1-4 Barry Hawkins
Ken Doherty 3-4 Matthew Stevens
Jimmy Robertson 4-3 Wu Yize
Andy Hicks 2-4 Graeme Dott
Jack Lisowski 4-3 Shaun Murphy
Gary Wilson 4-3 Chris Wakelin
Anthony Hamilton 0-4 Xiao Guodong
Rod Lawler 4-1 Dominic Dale
Ryan Day 4-1 Thor Chuan Leong
Ding Junhui 4-3 Liu Hongyu
Fan Zhengyi 4-1 Ross Muir
He Guoqiang 4-1 Muhammad Asif
John Higgins 1-4 Robbie Williams
Mark Selby 4-2 Tian Pengfei
Daniel Wells 2-4 Ashley Carty
Matthew Selt 4-1 Zak Surety
Mark Allen 0-4 Kyren Wilson
Stuart Bingham 2-4 Ishpreet Singh
Tom Ford 4-3 Ashley Hugill
David Grace 3-4 Sanderson Lam
Matthew Stevens 3-4 Fergal O’Brien
Yuan Sijun 2-4 Hossein Vafaei
Mark Williams 4-2 Gary Wilson
Hammad Miah 3-4 Ma Hailong
Graeme Dott 4-0 Ashley Carty
Ali Carter 4-2 Ryan Day
Julien Leclercq 0-4 Ding Junhui
Oliver Lines 1-4 He Guoqiang
Scott Donaldson 4-1 Robbie Williams
David Gilbert 4-1 Ishpreet Singh
Xiao Guodong 4-1 Sanderson Lam
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Kyren Wilson
Si Jiahui 1-4 Mark Selby
Jimmy Robertson 0-4 Tom Ford
Rod Lawler 2-4 Fan Zhengyi
Jack Lisowski 4-2 Matthew Selt
Ding Junhui 2-4 Mark Williams
Graeme Dott 2-4 Hossein Vafaei
Ali Carter 2-4 Xiao Guodong
Tom Ford 4-1 Scott Donaldson
Barry Hawkins 3-4 He Guoqiang
Fan Zhengyi 4-1 Ma Hailong
David Gilbert 3-4 Mark Selby
Jack Lisowski 4-2 Fergal O’Brien
Mark Williams 5-1 Fan Zhengyi
Hossein Vafaei 5-2 He Guoqiang
Tom Ford 3-5 Xiao Guodong
Mark Selby 5-4 Jack Lisowski
Mark Williams 6-3 Hossein Vafaei
Xiao Guodong 0-6 Mark Selby
Mark Williams 10-7 Mark Selby
Featured photo credit: WST