Neil Robertson remained on track for his third title in four months as he beat Mark Allen 6-4 in the BetVictor Welsh Open semi-finals.
The match turned on an incident in the third frame when Allen accidentally fouled when set to go 3-0 up, and Robertson took advantage to win six of the last eight frames.
The 34-year-old Australian won the Champion of Champions in November and the UK Championship in December and is now just one win away from what would be his second Welsh Open crown and 12th ranking title of his career.
Tomorrow at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, Robertson will face Ronnie O’Sullivan or close friend Joe Perry over 17 frames for the trophy and £60,000 top prize.
Allen won the opening frame with a break of 77 and started the second with a run of 55. Robertson had a chance to clear but missed a tricky brown off the last red and his opponent took advantage for 2-0.
In frame three, Northern Ireland’s Allen was on 56 when he potted a red with the rest, and referee Terry Camilleri called a foul as he felt Allen had grazed another red with his cue. A video replay proved that the referee was correct. Later in the frame, Robertson made a superb 49 clearance ,and he went on to win the next with runs of 54 and 51 to make it 2-2 at the interval.
World number three Robertson kept his momentum going after the interval with breaks of 75, 82 and 72 to go 5-2 up. Allen hit back with a 124 and took the next as well to close to 5-4.
In frame ten, Robertson led 39-0 when he missed a short range black to a top corner. Allen had a chance to clear to force a decider, but he rattled a tough last red in the jaws of the same pocket. Robertson clinched victory as he kept alive his hopes of repeating his 2007 Welsh Open triumph.
“At the start of the match I made a couple of sort of bad safety errors,” said Robertson. “At 2-0 it wasn’t really looking good from my point of view. I just needed to get into my flow and obviously that happened when he hit the red with his cue. Mark was unlucky and that changed the match.
“I knew about Mark’s fist pump last night but as he said that kind of thing wouldn’t have affected me. I watched the highlights last night and Michael (White) was like a kettle ready to explode.
“I just try to get better as a player, obviously I love the history of the game and moving up the ranking titles list. The next one in front of me is Mark Williams on 18 so he’s the one I’m chasing.”
Allen said: “I’m not really disappointed. The things that I wanted to come here and do this week, I feel like I’ve done them. It was big pressure today against probably the top player in the world aside from Ronnie, and I handled it pretty well. I was one shot away from 5-5 and then it’s anyone’s game.
“Earlier in the season I was stuck in a rut, losing to people who I shouldn’t really be losing to. That does sound disrespectful, but who cares? I just needed to change something. Now I’m competing with the best players and I’m enjoying every minute out there.”
Reacting to criticism from other players, including Steve Davis, which he saw on a televised item on BBC yesterday, Allen added: “I’ve been in the top ten for probably the best part of eight years now. I’ve won eight tournaments and I’ve beaten every player in the game in the latter stages of the major tournaments. I thought it was very disrespectful and it gives me extra motivation.
“I feel Steve has not liked me since day one. I played him in my very first match on tour and he said afterwards, when I’m beat him 4-0, that I would never have a future in the game. It seemed like a really strange comment. Maybe there is something in my game and style that he doesn’t particularly like. But who cares – I’m not here to play Steve Davis.”