Mark Allen eased to a 5-1 win over Lee Walker at the 19.com English Open to earn a semi-final against Mark Selby.
Neither Allen nor Selby have won a tournament so far in 2019 so both will be determined to come out on top when they clash at 1pm on Saturday in Crawley, with the winner to go through to Sunday’s final. Northern Ireland’s Allen won three titles in 2018, including the Masters, but hasn’t found the same level of form since.
He won the first four frames tonight with top breaks of 54, 51 and 80. Walker took the fifth on the colours but his hopes of a fight-back were dashed when he under-cut a black to a top corner at 17-32 in frame six. Allen’s run of 40 sealed the result.
World number seven Allen admitted his biggest challenge tonight was staying patient, as he is the eighth fastest player on the pro tour while Walker is the second slowest.
“Lee is good at dictating the place of play,” said Allen. “I always felt as if I was one miss away from a very long scrappy frame. For a while in the second frame it became a war of attrition. It challenges you mentally, but I didn’t let it get to me. It wasn’t free flowing in the way I like it to be, but I knew I just had to wait for my chances.
“I’m looking forward to playing Mark tomorrow. He’s one of the top century makers of all time and he knows how to win any type of frame. He has a point to prove because recently he hasn’t been winning titles like he usually does.”
Tom Ford reached his fourth ranking event semi-final with a 5-0 thrashing of Tian Pengfei. Leicester’s Ford made a 147 in beating Shaun Murphy on Thursday, and though he didn’t reach the same heights tonight, he had more than enough firepower to dismiss the challenge of China’s Tian.
Breaks of 62, 52 and 128 helped world number 25 Ford set up a match with David Gilbert on Saturday evening.
“It took me a couple of frames to get into the match tonight,” admitted 36-year-old Ford. “Luckily for me, Tian struggled as well. It was hard to find a rhythm. Tomorrow it’s down to one table and I’ll need to settle down quickly. David has played in the semis at the Crucible so he knows what it’s like.
“I feel good in myself, and I feel good mentally. It’s not as if I don’t know how to win tournaments because I won two Players Tour Championship events a few years ago.
“I grew up with David, we played each other a lot at junior level, so we know each others games.”