Mark Selby and Barry Hawkins will have to put their friendship to one side when they meet in tomorrow’s BetVictor European Masters semi-finals, after the pair secured respective last eight victories in Nuremberg.
Selby booked his place in the semis with a 5-2 win over China’s Lyu Haotian. Today’s victory sees him reach the 60th ranking event semi-final of his career.
The four-time World Champion is gunning for a second European Masters crown. He took home the trophy back in 2020, when he edged out Martin Gould 9-8 in the final.
It was Lyu who took a hard fought 30-minute opening frame this evening, before Selby replied with a century run of 106 to restore parity at 1-1. The Leicester cueman then added a further two on the bounce to head into the mid-session interval 3-1 in front.
When play resumed a break of 64 helped 25-year-old Lyu claw back within a frame at 3-2. He then looked set to draw level when leading 65-8 in the sixth. A break of 51 saw 22-time ranking event winner Selby take the frame down to the black, where a safety battle ensued. Eventually Selby deposited the black to the green corner and moved one from the win. He then got over the line with a break of 74 in the seventh to clinch a semi-final berth.
“Barry is one of my best mates on the tour so it is great he is in the semi-finals as well. The positive out of the match is one of us will be in the final. We will both be trying to beat each other out there, but hopefully it is a good game and we both put on a good performance,” said 40-year-old Selby.
“Once you are out there you have a job to do. He will be thinking the same as well. We have been going out for food every day this week. I’ll probably eat on my own tomorrow!
“I always say to win one tournament in a season, where the standard is now, you have to class that as a good season. If you can get it out of the way early doors then it would be great, you can relax for the rest of the season at that point.”
Hawkins earned his semi-final spot with a 5-2 defeat of Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham. The Londoner fired in breaks of 89, 52, 70 and 70 on his way to victory this evening in an impressive performance, having already beaten World Champion Luca Brecel 5-4 earlier in the day.
The Hawk is aiming to land silverware for the first time in six years this weekend. He last won a ranking title all the way back at the 2017 World Grand Prix. Since then he has been to four finals without getting over the line, including last year at the European Masters when he came up short against Kyren Wilson.