After yesterdays series of one sided sessions it had seemed we might be in for a day devoid of drama today,but we need not have feared,as The Crucible served up anther timely reminder of what makes this event so special.
Neil Robertson took a step closer his second world crown with a hard fought 13-11 victory over Judd Trump and in the process finally claimed that ton of tons record he had so desperately wanted.
Coming out today trailing 6-2 ,Robertson started to find his game and closed within one a 7-6 before two from Trump took the next two to lead by three at 9-6 going into tonights final session. Here Robertson again got back to 9-8,but Trump steadied himself going to the interval with his three frame lead restored at 11-8.
Robertson won the next to close to 11-9 and it was from here he started to really turn the screw,taking the next with a run of 70 after a long safety battle,before the moment of history came in the next when a break of 101,not only made it 11-11,but also secured his 100th century of the season.His reaction on potting the green showed just how much it meant to him to achieve this record and he deserves all the plaudits he gets for it.
There was however still a match to be won and Robertson managed to pull himself together to win the next frame as well to go ahead for the first time in the match at 12-11. Trump by now hadn't potted a ball for over an hour and was looking a beaten man. Into the next and there was really only going to one one winner and Robertson duly obliged to win his fifth frame in a row and record a superb 13-11 win.
His semi final opponent will be Mark Selby who came out this morning lading Alan McManus 12-4 and although he lost the first frame he wrapped it up in the next to win 13-5
Just as it had been with Selby,it was expected that Barry Hawkins would quickly wrap up his quarter final having held an 11-5 overnight lead,but noone told Dominic Dale as the Welshman turned this into a Crucible classic.
In an extraordinary start to the session Hawkins scored just 50 odd points in the first five frames as Dale roared back to trail by just one at 11-10. The next was more closely fought affair with Dale eventually getting the better of a safety exchange to level at 11-11 and unbelievably he took the next in similar circumstances to lead 12-11.
Hawkins head at this stage must have been spinning so it is testament to the player he has become that h managed to steady himself up to make a 66 break and force the decider before a 65 in that eventually saw him over the line 13-12.
I'm sure after that,he wont need rocking to get to sleep tonight and a good nights rest will be important as things certainly wont get any easier in the semi final,where he faces defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Ronnie started this morning with a 6-2 lead over Shaun Murphy and although he seemed to be having problems with a new tip on his cue,he wasn't been put under any pressure by well below par Murphy.Leading 9-3 at the mid session interval Ronnie managed to take the next four frames to give himself a night off before starting his semi final at 1 pm tomorrow.
So what can we expect in the semi finals? Well Ronnie will start a short priced favourite to repeat his victory over Barry Hawkins here in last years final. and its hard to see past him doing it again.That said Ronnie.was pushed hard by Hawkins in that final.and he will need to be a little tighter early on in this one than he has been in his previous matches. I still don't see anything other than a Ronnie win though and it may be a tad comfortable again Score Prediction 17-8 to Ronnie
The other semi final has the look of one of those Crucible crackers that could go all the way as two of the games hardest match players face off. of Course Selby & Robertson met earlier this season in the UK final with Robertson eventually coming out on top ,but that will have little bearing in this one.Going purely on form in this championship the favourite has to be Robertson,but I just have a feeling Selby might cause a slight upset here,There wont be much in it though either way. Score Prediction 17-15 to Selby