We are down to the one-table setup at the final Home Nations event of the year on Saturday, as the semi-finals of the Welsh Open takes place inside the Motorpoint Arena with spots in the final on Sunday very much up for grabs.
We saw four surprising quarter finals on Friday but are left with four top talents to compete on Saturday in what should be two cracking semi-finals as we head deep into this illustrious and important tournament.
Kyren Wilson vs Ronnie O’Sullivan
The first semi-final is a repeat of the Champion of Champions final of last season as the former ranking event winner Kyren Wilson takes on the man who could equal the record for Welsh Open titles this weekend in Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Both men were expected to have hard matches in the quarter final, Wilson against Neil Robertson and O’Sullivan against Mark Selby, but between them they dropped just the one frame. There were patches in both matches where they were looking in good order so we should be in for quite some semi-final here. O’Sullivan has achieved his initial aim of making it into the Players Championship in two weeks so he can play this semi with an ounce of freedom. Wilson has made a maximum this week and seen off Ding and Robertson in the last two rounds.
To my mind both men are in excellent form here so we should get a wonderful first semi-final. Their last two meetings have gone to a deciding frame, in that Champion of Champions final last term, and in the Shanghai Masters earlier this season. The way they are playing I expect to see this one go over 9.5 frames.
Yan Bingtao vs Shaun Murphy
The second semi-final sees two men who are going in search of their second ranking event title of the season over this weekend when the Riga Masters winner Yan Bingtao takes on Shaun Murphy, the man who lifted the China Championship earlier in the campaign.
Bingtao has seen off Stuart Bingham and John Higgins in this tournament so far and this match is pretty big for him as he chases entry into the Players Championship and the Tour Championship that follows it. Murphy already has his ticket to both booked so it will be interesting to see if that has any impact on this semi-final. Both men played very well in their quarter finals and have a huge opportunity ahead of them.
These two have played each other on five occasions and there has never been more than two frames between them. I’m far from convinced that will change here. Bingtao looks in red hot form and there was a calmness and a confidence about Murphy that I liked in his win over Trump. This is another semi-final that is set for over 9.5 frames before it is decided.
WON – Back K.Wilson vs R.O’Sullivan – Over 9.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.38 with William Hill
Back it here:
WON – Back Y.Bingtao vs S.Murphy – Over 9.5 frames for a 4/10 stake at 2.20 with Betfair
Back it here: