Ding Junhui won an exciting quarter-final against Luca Brecel 6-5 to set up a match with Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Dafabet Masters.
China’s Ding made an excellent match-winning break in the deciding frame to settle an enthralling contest which never had more than one frame between the two competitors.
Eighth seed Ding is through to the semi-finals of this event for the first time since he won it in 2011. He’ll face O’Sullivan on Saturday afternoon in a repeat of the 2007 final, which the Englishman won 10-3. Ding is seeking his first title since the 2017 Yushan World Open.
The first six frames tonight were shared, Ding making breaks of 125 and 64 while Brecel knocked in 63, 74 and 87. World number 14 Brecel, who was aiming to reach the semi-finals of a Triple Crown event for the first time, took frame seven in two scoring visits before Ding responded with a 105 for 4-4.
In the ninth, Ding trailed 35-0 when he was faced with a tough safety, and tried to come off the side cushion to rest against a red on the top cushion. He could have hit the ball directly, so when he failed to make contact three times in a row, referee Greg Coniglio had to award the frame to Brecel.
Unfazed by that error, Ding won the tenth with runs of 32 and 57 for 5-5. The key moment of the decider came when Brecel, leading 23-6, missed a straight-forward red to a centre pocket. Ding got the next chance and made no mistake, his cool 65 clinching the tie.
Ding said: “I believe in myself to do well in deciders. I’ve won most of them in the last couple of seasons. In a decider, it’s about who wants to win it, and I believed that I could win the game. Luca had a brilliant chance to win it, but he missed the red in the middle pocket which was unbelievable.
“I’ve finally got a chance to play Ronnie. I had a chance to play him in the UK Championship and in the Shanghai Masters but each time I lost the game before I met him. This time in the Masters, a big tournament, I’m looking forward to playing him.”
Brecel added: “It’s disappointing to lose today, I had my chances. Normally I’m very good in deciders, today I lost one. It happens. I have to get over it but it’s tough at the moment.”