Judd Trump reached the final of the Coral Welsh Open for the first time by beating Scott Donaldson 6-3 in Cardiff.
Trump is aiming for the seventh world ranking title of his career, and is hoping to win two in the same season for the first time, having landed the European Masters crown in October.
The world number four will face Stuart Bingham or Robert Milkins in the final on Sunday, with first to nine frames to take the Ray Reardon Trophy and a top prize of £70,000.
Bristol’s 27-year-old Trump started superbly today with a break of 131 in the opening frame. Scotland’s 22-year-old Donaldson, who had never previously been beyond the last 16 of a ranking event, had a chance in frame two but missed a red on 26 and Trump punished him with 55 to go 2-0 up.
A tight third frame came down to the final pink, and a safety error from Donaldson allowed Trump to pot it to a top corner as he threatened to dominate the content. Donaldson pulled one back with a run of 75 before Trump’s 65 made it 4-1.
World number 77 Donaldson battled gamely, taking frame six with runs of 40 and 42 then making an excellent 74 clearance to take the seventh from 50-0 down. But Trump soon snuffed out his hopes of a fight back as he fired in breaks of 82 and 60 to win the last two frames.
“It was a bit of a struggle today,” admitted Trump after reaching his 13th ranking event final. “I was good at the start and at the end, in the middle I let it slip a little bit, but I managed to hold on and win.
“Scott started to enjoy himself when he came back to 4-3. At the start he was a bit nervous so it was important for me to get a good lead. The crowd started to get behind him, they want to see a close game. It was important for me to be professional and not miss anything easy.
“I had some tremendous support, the crowds all week have been as good as anywhere. Today it was packed out, it had an extra buzz, especially because it is a semi-final.
“It will be tough if I play Stuart tomorrow, it is always close between us, so I will need to play well to win it. Robert is initially from Bristol too, so he will have a lot of support. We play quite a similar game – attacking – so if I play Robert it will be good for the fans.”
Donaldson enjoyed the best week of his career so far
Donaldson said: “It took me about four frames to adjust to the atmosphere. I played alright but it was too little, too late in the end.
“It is nice to win a few games in one tournament. I can take a lot of encouragement from that, especially the comeback out there today. It is a confidence booster for sure, and I know I can definitely play better.”