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Yan Beats Milkins In Belfast Thriller

17-year-old Yan Bingtao won a tremendous clash with Robert Milkins 5-4 to progress the semi-finals of the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

Chinese prodigy Yan remains on course to become the youngest ever winner of a ranking event and tomorrow’s match will be his second semi-final within the space of a month.

He went on a tremendous run at the recent International Championship, demolishing Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1 and brushing John Higgins aside 6-2, before bowing out against Mark Allen in the last four.

Milkins, who has now made 17 quarter-final appearances in his career will need to continue his quest to reach a first ranking final.

Yan now faces compatriot and fellow teenager Lyu Haotian for a place in the final. 19-year-old Lyu came out on top of a tense clash with former Ruhr Open runner-up Tian Pengfei 5-4.

Mark Williams is through to the last four following a 5-1 defeat of Mike Dunn. Two-time World Champion Williams is now favourite to clinch his first title since the 2011 German Masters, being the only top 16 player left after a week of shocks.

46-year-old Dunn, who has been struggling with illness this season, will reflect positively on an event which saw him reach only his fourth ranking quarter final.

Williams went 1-0 down this afternoon, but fired in breaks of 63, 71 and 53 as he blitzed to five frames in a row and secured his second semi-final appearance of the season.

Williams said: “I’ve been into the quarter-finals a couple of times and the draw has opened up. Then I ended up getting beat. I don’t look at it like that. It would be nice to win one. I’ll just try my best and if I win great, if not then no problem.

“It’s the first time in a long time I have been favourite. I don’t remember what that feeling is like. Let’s see what happens at the weekend.”

Elliot Slessor came through a four and a half hour marathon with Li Yuan 5-4. With the opportunity for either player to reach their first ever ranking semi-final there was a lot on the line. It was Slessor, who has already defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan this week, who handled the pressure best and claimed the decider .