By Ben Moorcroft
The World Championship semi-finals begin today with the first match taking place at one o’clock between Alan McManus and Ding Junhui.
Ding Junhui is based in Sheffield and has received a lot of local support. He thrashed veteran Mark Williams 13-3 and has now been made favourite to win the competition.
Ding largely disappeared from world snooker after his meteoric rise in 2011 accumulating in his first and only semi-final appearance in the World Championship up until now.
He started the competition ranked 19th in the world and even had to go through qualifying to enter.
However he seems to have benefitted from the additional playing time at the Crucible as he looked sharp and confident in the quarter-finals.
Alan McManus is another unlikely candidate to make it to the semi-finals. He last reached this stage over a decade ago in 1993.
He also beat an ex-World Champion in John Higgins who has won it four times.
Marco Fu will play Mark Selby later today. Fu beat Barry Hawkins 13-11 in dramatic fashion after winning the deciding frame. Barry Hawkins was the in-form player after knocking out Ronnie O’Sullivan.
All four players enter as equals which sets up a potentially exciting day of snooker.