Scottish Open Semi-Finals Preview

Two of the tournament favourites will face off against a couple of outsiders for a place in the final.

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby are on course for a Scottish Open title-deciding clash after reaching the semi-finals on Saturday in Milton Keynes.

The two rivals were made to work hard for their respective 5-4 triumphs in the last eight on Friday at the Marshall Arena.

Selby held off a late fight back from Ricky Walden to prevail in a decider before O’Sullivan repeated the trick against Ding Junhui later in the day.

World number one Judd Trump’s hopes of claiming all four Home Nations titles in a single season are over, though, after the Northern Ireland Open and English Open champion suffered an unexpected 5-4 reverse against Li Hang.

The Chinese competitor prevented Trump from reaching the final of a ranking event for the first time since the European Masters, which was won by Selby, right at the outset of the campaign.

Jamie Jones was day five’s other quarter-final winner, with the Welshman continuing his resurgence courtesy of a 5-1 defeat of Kyren Wilson.

Jones, who only returned to the tour via Q School in August after dropping off the circuit amid a one-year ban from the sport, and Li both match their previous best runs in ranking events by making it this far.

Their reward, if you can call it that, is a respective date with a multiple world champion.

Li takes on reigning Crucible king O’Sullivan in the first of the Scottish Open semi-finals on Saturday afternoon before Selby entertains Jones.

Both Englishmen will be heavy favourites to progress to what would be a mouthwatering showdown for the Stephen Hendry Trophy on Sunday.

O’Sullivan has faced Li on two previous occasions, winning both including in this same event three years ago when it was staged in its more familiar Glasgow surroundings.

The “Rocket” hasn’t really performed anywhere near his best this week but has grafted, and he is now only two victories away from a record-extending 38th ranking event title.

Li, a former world under-21 runner-up who has been a steady professional for the best part of a decade, will aspire to take another major scalp after his downing of Trump in the last round.

Selby and Jones, meanwhile, have met six times previously with the “Jester” boasting a far superior 5-1 head-to-head record against the 32 year-old.

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