Mark Williams came from 3-0 down to beat Jack Lisowski 5-3 and reach the semi-finals of the Hong Rui Ma Yushan World Open in China.
Welshman Williams is now just two wins away from yet another trophy, having landed three ranking titles last season including his memorable World Championship triumph in May. The 43-year-old will face Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in the semis on Saturday, with the winner to go through to Sunday’s final to compete for the £150,000 top prize.
After his tremendous 2017/18 campaign, Williams looks set to prolong the same rich vein of form and continues to play with confidence and fluency.
But it was Lisowski who dominated the early exchanges tonight as he took the first three frames in just 31 minutes with breaks of 60, 82 and 100. Williams pulled one back before the interval with a break of 96 then was lucky to take the fifth frame as he fluked the last red and cleared to close the gap to 3-2.
Lisowski, who reached a ranking final for the first time at the recent Riga Masters, had a golden chance for 4-2 but missed frame-ball pink, playing with his weaker right hand rather than using the rest. Williams took advantage for 3-3 then went ahead with a run of 98.
Williams missed the last red when leading 55-30 in frame frame eight, but Lisowski’s hopes of forcing a decider ended when he failed to pot the green to a baulk corner.
“I just hung in there at 3-0 down because Jack was immaculate,” said world number three Williams after reaching his 53rd ranking event semi-final. “He had an easy clearance to go 4-2 up then he played the pink right-handed. He might be really good right-handed but if he had got the rest out it was unmissable and then he probably would have won. He let me back into the match. I played well but I suppose he lost it rather than me winning it.
“Jack has been playing some great stuff and he’s one of the players I love watching. His temperament is normally brilliant but that’s the first time I have seen him let the emotions get to him. He was banging his cue and shaking his head at 3-3 and once I saw that I didn’t think I could lose. Unless I left him easy chances I didn’t think he was going to pot the balls, and he didn’t.
“I’m looking forward to the semi-finals tomorrow, this is one of the biggest tournaments we play in. There are only four players left now and someone has to win that nice hefty £150,000 at the end.”
Saengkham scored a 5-1 win over China’s Xiao Guodong to reach his second ranking event semi-final; the previous one coming at the Welsh Open earlier this year when he lost to Barry Hawkins.
The first two frames tonight took 77 minutes, Saengkham winning them both on the final black. Xiao pulled one back with a break of 111 but then lost a scrappy fourth. World number 53 Saengkham dominated after the interval, taking the last two frames with a top run of 70 to earn his place in the last four.