UK Championship semi-final
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York Barbican primed for UK Championship semi-final day

It’s the semi-final day at the UK Championship with just four contenders left vying for the 2023 title on Saturday in York.

A blockbuster lineup includes the record seven-time winner, two other former UK champions, and a talented outsider primed to make his major breakthrough.

Ding Junhui vs Judd Trump

Saturday, 7pm UTC

Judd Trump and Ding Junhui have emerged from the top half of the draw at the Barbican Centre.

Ding’s thrilling 6-5 defeat of Mark Williams on Friday means he’ll definitely feature at the prestigious Masters in January as a member of the top 16.

With that sorted, the Chinese star can direct his full focus at capturing the UK title for a fourth time.

Against Trump, however, he will face the undoubted player of the 2023/24 season so far.

The Englishman has already won three ranking titles this term, and he will return to the world number one position in the rankings if he betters Ronnie O’Sullivan’s performance in the event.

Trump, the 2011 UK champion, has lost only four frames en route to the last four as his relentless run of form shows no signs of letting up.

The 34 year-old hasn’t played Ding since early in 2021, but he has won their last three meetings and boasts a slightly superior head-to-head record from their battles overall.

Their only previous UK Championship encounter was actually their first match against each other when they were teenagers in 2005.

Ding easily prevailed that day, in what was a qualifying clash, before famously going on to capture the title for the first time.

Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Hossein Vafaei

Saturday, 1pm UTC

Ronnie O’Sullivan remains on course to secure an eighth UK crown, but he has sustained his challenge the hard way with back-to-back victories in deciding frames.

At times this week the Rocket has looked at his brilliant best, but there have been plenty of sloppy moments in frames as well.

O’Sullivan’s UK Championship semi-final match with Hossein Vafaei marks a repeat of their fiery showdown at the Crucible in April.

Vafaei has promised to be less aggressive with his approach on this occasion, which is probably wise considering he ended up losing 13-2 in Sheffield.

The Iranian is the only semi-finalist without a Triple Crown title to his name, but he has been playing very well and compiled a hat-trick of century breaks in both of his successes over Matthew Selt and Zhang Anda.

If he were to reach the final, he would gain an invitation to the Masters at the Alexandra Palace at the expense of Jack Lisowski.

Vafaei has beaten O’Sullivan before – a whitewash in a German Masters qualifying fixture last year – but this is an entirely different prospect.


2023 UK Championship draw and results

Last 32 (bo11)

Mark Allen (1) 5-6 Ding Junhui
Tom Ford (16) 6-5 Noppon Saengkham
Mark Williams (9) 6-4 Fan Zhengyi
Kyren Wilson (8) 5-6 Jamie Clarke

Mark Selby (5) 6-0 Mark Joyce
Barry Hawkins (12) 6-4 Ben Woollaston
Jack Lisowski (13) 4-6 Jamie Jones
Judd Trump (4) 6-1 Pang Junxu

Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-2 Anthony McGill
Robert Milkins (14) 6-5 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
John Higgins (11) 6-3 Joe O’Connor
Neil Robertson (6) 2-6 Zhou Yuelong

Shaun Murphy (7) 4-6 Hossein Vafaei
Ali Carter (10) 3-6 Matthew Selt
Zhang Anda (15) 6-5 Elliot Slessor
Luca Brecel (2) 6-4 Yuan Sijun

Last 16 (bo11)

Ding Junhui 6-3 Tom Ford (16)
Mark Williams (9) 6-4 Jamie Clarke
Mark Selby (5) 6-5 Barry Hawkins (12)
Jamie Jones 0-6 Judd Trump (4)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-5 Robert Milkins (14)
John Higgins (11) 3-6 Zhou Yuelong
Hossein Vafaei 6-1 Matthew Selt
Zhang Anda (15) 6-4 Luca Brecel (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo11)

Ding Junhui 6-5 Mark Williams (9)
Mark Selby (5) 3-6 Judd Trump (4)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-5 Zhou Yuelong
Hossein Vafaei 6-4 Zhang Anda (15)

Semi-Finals (bo11)

Ding Junhui 6-4 Judd Trump (4)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-2 Hossein Vafaei

Final (bo19)

Ding Junhui 7-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (3)

Featured photo credit: WST

2 Comments

  1. O’Sullivan playing in a 11th UK Semi-final and 38th in Triple Crown events.

  2. Daniel White

    Two very tantalising matches in my opinion; Vafaei looks increasingly like a tournament winner in terms of his all round match play, I increasingly feel that he has some similarities to O’Sullivan in how he thinks and acts in general and I think that he has the form to win.
    Ding and Trump will be a great match up for each other at this tournament this season: Ding at his favourite place and Trump the best player of the first half of the season.

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