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Luca Brecel fights back against Si Jiahui in thrilling Crucible semi-final

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Luca Brecel staged a brave fightback to stay in his World Snooker Championship semi-final against Si Jiahui in one of the most exciting sessions witnessed at the Crucible.

The Chinese world No 80, who has wowed fans over the last two weeks with his brilliant attacking game, looked on course to win the match with a session to spare when he won the first three frames of the evening session, extending his lead from 11-5 to 14-5 with breaks of 90, 132 and 97.

But Brecel, the world No 10 from Belgium, came from 10-6 behind to defeat the defending champion and world No 1, Ronnie O’Sullivan, 13-10 in the quarter-finals. He summoned up the same fighting spirit that secured that memorable victory with a display of virtuoso attacking snooker.

Si seemed to wilt when Brecel produced some audacious potting and break-building, as the Belgian forced his way back into the match in dramatic fashion, winning five straight frames including a break of 108. It was exhibition stuff, particularly an outrageously thin cut on a red near the pink spot into the middle pocket that drew gasps of admiration from the crowd.

In the final frame of the night, it looked as if Brecel was on course to reduce his arrears to four frames when he made a break of 53, only to miss the final red to give Si a chance. But the 20-year-old surprisingly missed a straightforward attempt at green and thumped the table in frustration, a rare show of annoyance.

Brecel had fought back to 14-10 to give himself a chance when play resumes on Saturday afternoon, with Si needing three more frames for victory.

Mark Selby plays a shot as Mark Allen watches on in their world championship semi-final.
Mark Selby plays a shot as Mark Allen watches on in their semi-final. The match was played in a jovial spirit despite the dour nature of the snooker. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

In the other semi-final it was a different story, as Mark Selby, the world No 2, and Mark Allen, the No 3, laboured for more than three hours to complete only five of their scheduled eight frames, with Selby establishing a 7-6 overnight advantage.

Selby is well known for his obdurate approach and his tactical game which is second to none, and which has helped him win four world titles. Allen is traditionally an aggressive, attacking break-builder but has recently reined in his natural instincts to great effect. He has won three ranking titles this season, including the UK Championship, and is miles in front as No 1 on the one-year ranking list.

So a tough, gruelling battle was very much on the cards. Even so, it was perhaps more gruelling than many had expected.

Stephen Hendry, for one. He criticised the two players, saying they had cast a “dark cloud” over the Crucible. The seven-times world champion, a pundit for the BBC, said: “A dark cloud came over the match table at the Crucible. It was not pretty.

“It’s not the snooker that I want to watch, but I understand that snooker has to be played in different ways. It’s almost like they’re trying to be too precise, too exact in their matchplay. Just play the ball sometimes.”

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( With inputs from : www.theguardian.com )

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