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Debutant Si On Course For Final

China’s 20-year-old Si Jiahui remains on track to continue his astonishing run at the Cazoo World Championship as he extended his semi-final lead over Luca Brecel to 11-5 after two sessions.

Aiming to become the first Crucible debutant to reach the final since Terry Griffiths in 1979, Si seems unfazed by the occasion. The bold attacking style which has already seen him knock out Shaun Murphy, Robert Milkins and Anthony McGill at the Theatre of Dreams is proving effective against Brecel, who beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals but is yet to reproduce that form against Si.

They return for the third session at 7pm on Friday evening, and if Si wins six of the eight frames then he’ll be into the final to face Mark Selby or Mark Allen.

Leading 5-3 overnight, Si had a stroke of good fortune in the opening frame today when, leading by 28 points on the green, he escaped from a snooker and left the cue ball in the jaws of a corner pocket. Brecel then couldn’t hit the green as he was ‘angled’ and after failing to execute a swerve shot, he impetuously flicked the white ball off the table with his cue to concede the frame. Referee Rob Spencer retrieved the white with an expert slip catch.

Brecel’s break of 65 pulled a frame back but he could do nothing other than admire Si’s outstanding skill for the next three frames as the world number 80 compiled runs of 122, 89 and 58 to go 9-4 in front. In frame 14, Si led 41-38 when he missed the blue, trying to gain position on the last two reds, and his opponent took advantage to narrow his deficit.

But Si hit back with a 55 to lead 10-5. In the last of the session, Brecel was on 31 when he missed a red to a centre pocket, and Si’s reply of 71 was enough to give himself a six frame cushion.