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Captain Cruises To Cheltenham Final

Ali Carter is through to the ninth ranking final of his career after a dominant display saw him thrash China’s Xiao Guodong 6-0 in their semi-final at the Coral World Grand Prix.

The Captain last graced a ranking event final at the 2017 German Masters, where he lost out in a hard fought battle with Anthony Hamilton. Two years on, Carter will be hoping to go one step further and secure his first silverware since the 2016 World Open, where he defeated Joe Perry to claim the title.

Carter is now guaranteed a pay cheque of £40,000 and could pocket the top prize of £100,000 if he is victorious in the final. Xiao leaves Cheltenham disappointed after an edgy performance in his fourth ranking semi-final. However, he heads to Cardiff for next week’s Welsh Open with the consolation of £20,000 for reaching the last four.

Carter started this evening’s clash at breakneck speed. After trailing in the early stages of the opening frame, Carter embarked on a run of 382 unanswered points to claim a clean sweep of frames before the mid-session. Breaks of 54, 99, 71 and 126 fired him into a 4-0 lead.

When the players returned a dramatic fifth frame ultimately put paid to Xiao’s chances. The Chinese cueman appeared to pot the final black to take the frame, only to go in off and take the frame to a re-spot with the scores tied at 59-59. Eventually Carter deposited a tough long range pot with the white glued to the top cushion to lead 5-0.

The Captain sealed victory in the following frame to set up a clash in the final with either Judd Trump or Barry Hawkins.

Carter said: “I’ve been 8-4 in front of Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals of the UK Championship. He beat me 9-8 and I was devastated. I’ve played the game too long to take liberties when I am in front. I have a lot of battle scars really. That is why sometimes it can be harder to get over the winning line. I am delighted to win today because that was a big match for me. It has been a while since I’ve been competing at the top level.

“It would be a little bit surreal to win on Sunday. I am in the final now. I have so much going on behind the scenes at the minute. To be in the final I feel a bit punch drunk. I will look forward to it.”