Stephen Maguire battled past World Champion Judd Trump 9-6 to reach the final of the Coral Tour Championship.
It has been a tremendous run for Maguire, who fired in a remarkable six centuries in his first round win over Neil Robertson. The five-time ranking event winner was a late call-up to this week’s tournament, replacing China’s Ding Junhui who decided not to travel to the UK.
Tonight’s victory keeps Maguire in the frame for the bumper £100,000 payout attached to winning the Coral Cup, awarded to the player who amasses the most prize money over the three-event series. Scotland’s Maguire still needs to win the final and secure the £150,000 top prize, otherwise Trump will finish top of the Coral Cup rankings.
Maguire, who was runner-up to Ding at this season’s UK Championship, will face Mark Selby or Mark Allen in the final on Friday. He will be aiming to end a ranking title drought which extends back to the 2013 Welsh Open.
Despite today’s out of sorts performance, Crucible king Trump will head to Sheffield in July confident of defending his world title. The Ace in the Pack has enjoyed an unprecedented season, having won a record six ranking titles across the campaign.
This afternoon’s action set up a tense evening of snooker, with the players sharing the opening eight frames and ending at 4-4.
They traded the first two frames tonight, before a break of 79 saw Trump edge ahead at 6-5. The crucial 42-minute 12th frame came down to the colours, with Maguire eventually potting a terrific long blue and setting up a clearance to the black that made it 6-6.
Breaks of 47 and 55 helped Maguire to move to the verge of victory at 8-6. He then clinched his fourth frame in a row, courtesy of a run of 56, to secure the 9-6 win.
“The close frames were the key to victory. I seemed to nick a lot of them, if not all of them, they are just as big as centuries,” said 39-year-old Maguire. “He was showing a little bit out there, he hasn’t been doing that. If he desperately wants to win, there is nothing wrong with that. Everybody desperately wants to win. I don’t mind players showing a bit of emotion. It’s a hard game out there.
“It would mean everything to win the title. It would get me back in that winner’s enclosure, against the top boys. Especially this tournament, this is a proper event. Leading up to the World Championship, it would give me mega confidence.”