China’s number one Ding Junhui is set to play Mark Selby at 1pm today in the first of the semi-finals after beating Ronnie O’sullivan in a surprise 13-10 win last night.
‘The Rocket’ had his tournament largely overshadowed after claims he had been bullied by snooker bosses in recent years.
Despite this controversy O’Sullivan did achieve a tournament-high break of 146 in the 20th frame of the match (one away from the maximum of 147, which would have earned him a £5,000 bonus).
Ding, the underdog of the competition went on to win the match 13 frames to 10.
The surprise victory was celebrated by many over twitter:
Ding would be a hugely popular champion, and I'm not even talking China. Such a likeable character #snooker
— David Caulfield (@SnookerHQ) April 26, 2017
Fantastic snooker from both Ding Junhui and Mark Selby, what a semi-final! @BBCSnooker
— James Cleverley 🏴 (@JamesCleverley1) April 27, 2017
Superb performance from Ding Junhui to knock Ronnie O out. Played some confident snooker to win it. Selby up next in semis. #bbcsnooker
— Mike White (@mikewhitesport) April 26, 2017
Ding who regularly practices at Sheffield’s Star Snooker Academy will have to beat world number one Mark Selby if he is to reach the final this Sunday.
Garry Baldrey, the director and head coach at Star Snooker Academy, said Ding is especially on form at the moment and scoring heavy.
Discussing Ding’s toughest competition Mr Baldrey said, “Selby is just doing what he normally does: grinding out results.”
“He’s won it twice already. He is going to be a big danger.”
Selby eased through to the next round by thrashing Hong Kong’s Marco Fu 13-3, reaching the semi-finals with a session to spare.
On the other side of the draw, four-time champion John Higgins comfortably scored a 13-6 win over world number 14 Kyren Wilson.
In his first semi-final at the venue since 2011, Higgins will face Barry Hawkins at 7pm today.
World number seven Hawkins beat Scotland’s Stephen Maguire 13-9 in last night’s quarter-final match.
There is added pressure for the semi-finalists, as this year’s championship marks 40 years since it first arrived at The Crucible in Sheffield.
Until its arrival at the iconic venue the competition was held sporadically in snooker halls and leisure centres across Britain, and even in Australia for the 1975 championships.
It arrived at The Crucible initially for just one year in 1977 but now the venue has confirmed that it will be hosting the championships for another 10 years, potentially reaching its 50th anniversary in 2027.