Ricky Walden reached his second consecutive ranking final by beating John Higgins 6-5 in the semi-finals of the BAIC Motor China Open.
Walden made a brilliant century in the deciding frame of a dramatic match in Beijing to move within one win of his fourth career ranking title. The 33-year-old Chester will face Judd Trump or Stephen Maguire in the final on Sunday. World number ten Walden has won all three of his ranking titles in China – at the 2008 Shanghai Masters, 2012 Wuxi Classic and 2014 International Championship.
It had been a poor season for Walden until he reached the final of last week’s Players Championship in Manchester, where he was denied the title by Mark Allen. Now he has another chance to add to his silverware haul.
He shared the first six frames today with Scotland’s Higgins, and it was Walden who made the better breaks with 82, 66 and 113. The Englishman won a scrappy seventh frame then made a 96 in the next to lead 5-3.
Higgins, who had been chasing his 29th ranking title, pulled one back with a run of 99. Walden had a chance to seal victory in frame ten by clearing from the last red, but he went in-off the final black to leave the score at 5-5.
Walden, however, seized his chance in the decider with a superb 131.
“It was a great match. I scored heavily throughout and made a couple of mistakes, which is always going to happen in a best of 11,” said Walden. “You have to play well to beat someone as good as John.
“Last week’s run gave me a lot of confidence and that has helped me through some tough games this week. I have tried to stay as relaxed as possible and I’ve played some good snooker. To get to two finals in a row is pretty good, especially compared to my previous form this season.
“I have put a lot of work in on the practice table and you have to trust yourself out there when it comes down to the big moments. You have to play the shots properly and I’d like to think I always do that.”
Higgins said: “I’m not too disappointed because I didn’t play well enough to win. If I had won it would have been an injustice to Ricky because he played far better than me. I was just managing to stay in touch and he was unlucky when he went in-off the black in the tenth frame. He scored heavily and I didn’t play to my best.”