Jack Lisowski is just two frames away from reaching the second ranking event final of his career, leading Scott Donaldson 8-1 going into the second session of their XingPai China Open semi-final in Beijing.
Lisowski appeared in his maiden ranking final at the season opening Riga Masters, losing out to Neil Robertson. The Englishman followed that performance up with several strong showings to secure his place in the world’s top 16 and ensure qualification for this month’s World Championship at the Crucible.
Scotland’s Donaldson is the only remaining threat to David Gilbert in the Race to the Crucible. Gilbert currently occupies 16th position and is now looking to be close to safety, with world number 52 Donaldson needing to win the event to leapfrog him.
Lisowski put on a supreme display in the opening session to secure his hefty advantage, firing in century runs of 114 and 136 on his way to establishing the 8-1 scoreline.
Neil Robertson came from behind to secure a slender 5-4 lead heading into the evening session against Luca Brecel, in what has been a high quality encounter.
The Thunder from Down Under is aiming for his fourth consecutive appearance in a ranking event final, having won the Welsh Open and been runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Players Championship and Tour Championship.
World number 14 Brecel, who is assured of a Crucible place, claimed the opening frame with a break of 70. Robertson levelled immediately, but the Belgian went on to take two on the bounce and lead 3-1 at the mid-session.
When they returned Robertson ramped up the level of play, with a break of 135 to cut his deficit in half. Brecel hit back with a century contribution of his own, a run of 116. However, consecutive breaks of 94, 98 and 52 saw Australia’s Robertson take three in a row to lead 5-4 heading into tonight.