Mark Allen described his own performance as “nearly perfect” after beating Noppon Saengkham 6-1 in the semi-finals of the Cazoo British Open.
Northern Ireland’s Allen lived up to his billing as the heavy favourite for the title as he dominated a potentially tough task against Thailand’s Saengkham, sealing the result in just 112 minutes to reach his 14th ranking final.
World number 14 Allen will face Ryan Day or Robbie Williams over a possible 19 frames in the final on Sunday in Milton Keynes, with the winner to lift the Clive Everton Trophy and a top prize of £100,000. Victory would give Allen a seventh ranking title, which would put him 14th on his own on the all-time list, ahead of Ken Doherty, Stuart Bingham and Stephen Maguire who all have six.
Just one of Allen’s six ranking titles has come in England – he has won three in China, one in Scotland and last October he enjoyed his finest hour when he captured the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast. The 36-year-old also won the Masters in 2018.
World number 38 Saengkham was playing in his third ranking semi-final and had hoped to reach his first final, but was completely outplayed and has to settle for a prize of £20,000.
The Thai scored just 11 points in the first five frames as Allen rattled in breaks of 69, 76, 133, 69 and 56 to go 5-0 up. A whitewash looked likely in frame six until Allen missed a red to a centre pocket on 44, and Saengkham cleared with 48 before raising his hands to the crowd in celebration having got one on the board.
Saengkham trailed 64-0 in the seventh then had a chance to clear after fluking a red, but missed the final green and that extinguished any hopes of a fight-back.
“I’m delighted with the way I played, I was pretty much flawless for the first four frames,” said Allen. “After that I kept making it tough for him and didn’t give him easy chances. I think I only missed one ball.
“I remember playing John Higgins in the (2013) World Open semi-finals, it was 2-2 at the interval and he didn’t pot a ball in the next four frames. That’s pretty much how it was today, it was nearly the perfect performance.
“It would be great to go ahead of the likes of Ken and Stuart on the list of ranking event winners but those two have both won the world title so I think they would take their career ahead of mine. I’m not getting carried away, I have to go and do a job tomorrow. At the end of my career I’ll see where I am on that list.”
Allen, who lost more than four stone in weight over the summer, added: “I won’t be watching the other semi-final tonight, I’ll have a very relaxed evening and the same in the morning. I’ll do a little work out in my room and otherwise take it easy.”