The semi-finals of the UK Championship will be on show on Saturday when the Barbican Centre is transformed down to the one table for what should be two fantastic matches as we decide who will compete in the final on Sunday.
We have three former winners of this tournament through to the semi-final and then one of the rising stars in the game has joined them. It isn’t just this event in the spotlight on Saturday but the qualification for The Masters is hotting up too.
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Hossein Vafaei
The first semi-final is a repeat of the grudge match from the World Championship as Ronnie O’Sullivan looks to make it through to another Triple Crown final at the expense of a man looking to reach his maiden title clash in a BBC event in Hossein Vafaei.
If this was based on history then it would be very hard to go against O’Sullivan here. These two have met four previous times and the three matches Ronnie cared about he won 4-1, 4-1 and 13-2 so on that Vafaei wouldn’t have much going for him. This week though Vafaei has been so much better than O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan has delivered when he has had to but he has randomly missed some very guilt-edged chances and the way that the Iranian is scoring you get the feeling that if the Rocket misses as many again he’ll come up short. Sometimes in the past I’ve felt that Vafaei doesn’t truly believe that he can beat O’Sullivan but I sense he’ll soon work out his man is there for the taking here. Whether he is good enough to beat him remains to be seen but the way Vafaei is scoring if he can get off to anything resembling a decent start then I think he’ll get to a decider here if not get over the line.
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Ding Junhui vs Judd Trump
Two former winners of the tournament meet in what should be a really tasty second semi-final on Saturday evening when Ding Junhui, the man beaten in the final here last season, looks to get back to the title match for the second year in a row when he takes on the player of the season in Judd Trump.
Ding had flattered to deceive a little this week, admittedly some of which was down to battling a cold, but he came to the party when it mattered in a brilliant quarter final with Mark Williams on Friday night and given his love for this event you sense he’ll be right at it here. The problem is that Trump displayed his best form in beating Mark Selby on Friday evening and if he has that level with him in this match then we have seen all season just how hard he is to beat. I wouldn’t really want to call this one. Trump is a worthy favourite but Ding is more than capable of delivering the goods. I would rather watch this match rather than get involved in it.
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