Luca Brecel's Best Long Pots | 2023 Cazoo World Championship

Rising Star Si Stuns McGill

Si Jiahui became the first Crucible debutant to reach the semi-finals since 1995, beating Anthony McGill 13-12 in an exciting late night finish at the Cazoo World Championship.

At the age of just 20, Si becomes the youngest player to make it to the last four in Sheffield since Ronnie O’Sullivan in 1996, and the first debutant since Andy Hicks a year earlier. The new Chinese sensation becomes the third player from his country to make it to the famed one table set-up, after Ding Junhui and Marco Fu.

Having won three qualifying matches to make it to the televised stages, Si then knocked out Shaun Murphy 10-9 and Robert Milkins 13-7 before getting the better of an enthralling battle against McGill. He is sure to jump at least 44 places from his current ranking of 80th.

Murphy predicted last week that Si would become the first World Champion from China, and the precocious youngster is just two wins away from fulfilling that prophesy. His next challenge is against Luca Brecel, the best of 33 frames over the next three days. Si, who comes from Zhu Ji in the Zhejiang province of central China, is through to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

Scotland’s McGill took a scrappy opening frame tonight to lead 9-8. In the next, Si led 44-25 when he missed a red to a baulk corner, playing with the rest, and McGill punished him with an excellent 35 clearance to double his lead. The next two were shared to leave the score at 11-9. Frame 21 lasted 46 minutes and went Si’s way, then the 22nd came down to a safety battle on the colours, and a loose shot on the green from McGill handed his opponent the chance to clear for 11-11.

Si edged ahead with a superb run of 87, only for McGill to bounce back with a 130 total clearance to set up the decider. The key moment came when McGill, trailing 29-7, attempted an awkward red to a top corner, playing left-handed. But he misjudged the chance, hit the wrong red, and handed his opponent an opportunity, from which Si made a vital 41. McGill battled for the snookers he needed but his efforts were in vain.

“I genuinely felt pressure during the last frame and I had to keep my nerve under control,” said Si, who won the World Snooker Federation Open last year. “All the spectators were watching. I was offered a lot of opportunities during the match by my opponent, and I thought with that many chances I wanted to win. I felt the desire, which was different from previous matches. I could have lost to Murphy and felt great because I was supposed to lose anyway.

“I’ve learned something from this experience and I will be playing under a better mindset from now on. I used to tremble because of nerves in deciding frames but I’m able to get through it more consistently, mentally stronger.

“I’ll keep going for my shots because I’m still not as good as others at safety. I’ll go for potting when there are options, try to attack. I will keep trying my best, but I don’t want fans to expect too much. I am surprised to get this far because I didn’t think I was at the level of players who can make it to the semi-finals. I need to improve. So please don’t think of me as great player like Ding!”

McGill said: “Si deserved to win because he controlled the decider. The red I played left-handed, I tried to convince myself that I could get through to it. Overall I played badly throughout the match, my game just wasn’t there.”