Ding Junhui stepped up his bid to win back to back titles by beating Michael Holt 5-3 at the Shanghai Masters.
Ding won the Six Red World Championship in Thailand earlier this month and has kept his fine form going on home turf in southern China this week. The world number nine will now face Stephen Maguire in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Holt had knocked out Kyren Wilson and Ronnie O’Sullivan but the Nottingham cueman made too many errors against the home favourite.
Breaks of 45, 53 and 46 helped put Ding 2-0 up before Holt rallied to 2-2 with runs of 77 and 50. Ding regained the lead with a 103 and he looked set to go 4-2 up until he ran out of position on 46 in frame six. Holt eventually won it with a 64 clearance to draw level at 3-3.
Ding took the seventh with 61 and 38, and when Holt missed a black off its spot leading 34-32 in frame eight, it proved his last meaningful shot. Ding added 30 to book his last four place.
“I played well during the match but in the last couple of frames we both missed,” said Ding, winning of 11 ranking titles. “I wasn’t worrying about winning or losing, I just felt quite relaxed. Hopefully I will play better tomorrow but I need to get used to the conditions.”
Holt said: “I’m disappointed to lose because I’ve been playing well. It was unforgivable to miss the black in the last frame, I didn’t compose myself on it. I didn’t miss that many today but you get punished at this level.”
Maguire, meanwhile, enjoyed an emphatic 5-1 victory over Michael White. Glasgow’s Maguire took the opening frame with a break of 44, and the second with a 39 clearance. White took a scrappy third before Maguire won the fourth on the colours to lead 3-1.
Runs of 51 and 62 gave Maguire frame five, and he sealed victory in the next by clearing from green to black. World number 20 Maguire has lost just four frames in four matches this week.
The result boosts Maguire’s hopes of gaining one of the four spots available on the one-year list which qualify for the lucrative new Evergrande China Championship in Guangzhou in November. Victory over Ding tomorrow would give Maguire one of those four spots, at the expense of Holt. The three players already secure on that list are Ali Carter, Anthony McGill and Joe Perry.
“It wasn’t the best match,” said Maguire, who also got to the semi-finals of the China Open in April. “I’ve been putting a lot of work in and I know I’m playing well so I’m not worried about the way I played today because the conditions were difficult.
“Playing Ding here will be an experience, especially in the one table set up. The crowd won’t worry me – I’ve played Ronnie O’Sullivan at Wembley and they don’t get harder than that.”