Barry Hawkins missed match-ball yellow in the deciding frame as he lost 5-4 to Judd Trump in a pulsating quarter-final at the Coral Welsh Open.
Hawkins led by 24 points in the last frame when his attempted pot on the yellow to a centre pocket rolled across the lip but somehow stayed out. Trump cleared to the black to snatch victory and earn a semi-final against Scott Donaldson, who is through to the last four of a ranking event for the first time thanks to a 5-0 whitewash of Zhou Yuelong.
Defeat for Hawkins ends a run of nine consecutive matches won within ten days, as he captured the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix title last week.
Instead it’s world number four Trump who continues to hunt for his first Welsh Open crown and second ranking title of the season having won the European Masters in October. He will battle Donaldson over 11 frames on Saturday afternoon for a place in the final.
Bristol’s Trump led 3-1 at the interval then Hawkins fought back to 3-3 with breaks of 52 and 76. Trump led 61-11 in frame seven but Londoner Hawkins snatched it with a 58 clearance, dropping the final pink into a centre pocket to go ahead for the first time. Trump took the next with runs of 41 and 48 to make it 4-4.
Trump had first chance in the decider but missed the yellow with the rest on 32. Hawkins missed a red to corner pocket on 30 but got another chance and added 27 before running out of position on the last red. It came down to the yellow and Trump looked to have blown his chance when he got a double kiss playing a safety shot. But Hawkins was left to rue his crucial miss.
Trump said: “I am still in a bit of shock because I thought it was all over when I left him the yellow. He seemed to hit it well, but somehow it stayed out.
“It is the bit of luck I’ve needed. I have played well the last few tournaments and gone out to amazing performances. For me to get a bit lucky today means the hard work has paid off. Every time I have lost I have gone back to the practice table the next day and that has really paid off for me now.
“Sometimes you play well and lose and today I didn’t play very well and managed to get through. There is a lot of skill in snooker, but you need a bit of luck to win tournaments.”
Hawkins said: “I am gutted to lose like that. I thought the yellow was going to go in, I can’t believe it. It rolled around the pocket about four times and stayed there for him. It obviously wasn’t meant to be.
“It was a good finish for the people to watch. My run has come to an end but there you go. I hope Judd goes on to win it now.”
World number 77 Donaldson, age 22 from Perth in Scotland, had never previously been beyond the last 16 of a ranking event, but is now into the last four and is already guaranteed a career biggest pay day of £20,000.
A break of 62 gave him the opening frame against China’s Zhou and he added the second by clearing from the last red. Frame three came down to a tactical battle on the yellow and Donaldson capitalised on a safety error from his opponent to go 3-0 ahead.
A drawn-out 43-minute fourth frame came down to the colours and 19-year-old Zhou – who was also appearing in his first ranking quarter-final – had a chance to win it but missed a tricky pink to a top corner pocket, leaving it in the jaws for Donaldson to extend his lead. And when Donaldson potted the last red in a scrappy fifth he was into the last four.
“I’m delighted to get through,” said the young Scot, who turned pro in 2012. “Zhou didn’t play his game – when he plays well he is a lot tougher than that. I played my game and luckily I won.
“I think everyone knows how good Zhou is. I have been playing a lot of TV matches recently and I think that helped me in the end.
“There is no reason I’ve played better this week. That is snooker, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and this week has been a good week for me, so long may it continue.
“My goal is to always win the first match and take it from there. I am happy at the moment, but I will go back to the hotel and calm myself down again and get ready for the next match. I have been pleased for about a year now with my game, I can’t pinpoint why, maybe it’s confidence.”