Mark Selby is two wins away from retaining his OPPO International Championship title following a 6-2 win over Robbie Williams to book a semi-final spot.
The world number one defended his Crucible crown at the World Championship in May. It was the first time he has ever defended a ranking title in consecutive seasons. Following his victory here in Daqing in 2016, he will be hoping to achieve the feat for a second time this week.
Despite the defeat, Williams can reflect on his his most significant run in a ranking event. He reached the semi-final stage at the 2013 Indian Open. However, this is the 30-year-old’s biggest career payday, racking up £21,500.
Williams was the first to grasp the lead after claiming the opening frame. However, the 12-time ranking event winner responded by claiming the subsequent two frames with runs of 90 and 59.
The world number 63 wasn’t going to let Selby out of his sights early on and compiled a gutsy break of 106 to ensure parity at 2-2 heading into the interval.
When they returned Selby made his charge to the line, winning four consecutive frames and making breaks of 81, 60 and 93 along the way.
“I took my chances more times than not today. Robbie had a chance to make it 4-3 and if he did it could have been a different game,” said Selby. “It’s going to be played over two sessions tomorrow and think every player likes the longer format. It gives you more chance to get involved into the match. In best of nines you need a quick start, but tomorrow there will be more time to settle into the game.”
Martin Gould booked his place to take on Selby tomorrow with a tense 6-5 defeat of world number 14 Ali Carter. It will be the Pinner potter’s sixth semi-final appearance of his career.
Gould moved into a 5-3 lead, making a top run of 105 along the way. However, he spurned opportunities to close out the match and Carter punished him by taking two on the bounce to set up a decider.
It was in vain for the Captain, as Gould seized the moment, making a break of 81 to secure his place in the last four.
Gould said: “I had a couple of chances to win 6-3 and if you don’t take them sometimes it comes back to bite you. I am just thankful that I got a good opportunity to clear up in the decider. As long as you get to six first it doesn’t matter.
“It is going to be a tough match tomorrow. It’s the semi-finals of a major event and you aren’t going to play some random guy off the street. You will face the best.
“I don’t care whoever I play. If I play like I know I can then I am able to beat anybody. That includes Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan. It is just a matter of how I turn up on the day. It is the same for everyone. If you turn up and play how you can then anything is possible.”