Since defending champion Judd Trump crashed out in the first round of the UK Championship the talk of York has been 17-year-old Luca Brecel who after qualifying followed up with impressive wins over Ricky Walden & Mark King to become the youngest ever player to reach the quarter-finals of this prestigious event.
He faced Shaun Murphy in the last 8 and he had several chances to win the match 6-4 and 6-5 but in the end it was the more experienced 2008 UK Champion that came out on top, coming through to sneak the decider on the final pink and reach his fourth-semi-final in this event. No doubt we haven't seen the last of Brecel, can he follow up on a great 2012 and qualify for the Crucible once again?
Shaun Murphy pleased to sneak through
Murphy's opponent in the first match of the last four will Ali Carter who also had a tough time in his match against Stuart Bingham, but the Captain persevered and came through 6-4. Carter lost the first frame but won the next three on the bounce including an excellent 134 to go 3-1 up. Bingham pulled back to 4-4 only for Carter to step up a gear and win the next two frames to seal the victory.
Ali Carter relieved to get through
The first through in the evening was Sussex's Mark Davis who for the first time in his 21-year career has reached the semi-final of the UK Championship with a convincing 6-4 win over the 2003 champion Matthew Stevens. After coming through a thriller against John Higgins yesterday, Davis showed no signs of fatigue and breaks of 101 and a 70 in the ninth frame helped him to a 5-4 lead before a nervy tenth frame went the way of the Six-reds world champion who is safely through to the next round.
His opponent in that semi-final will be Leicester's Mark Selby who completed a remarkable comeback to finish off tournament favourite Neil Robertson 6-4 just past midnight. Robertson who still wasn't back to his best since making four centuries in his first round win over Tom Ford was able to sneak a few scrappy frames and made a 105 to go 4-0 at the interval. However when they resumed it seemed to do him more halm than good and he just couldn't get started again as Selby reeled off one frame after another including two tons of 101 and 106 to send his Australian opponent home in emphatic style.
With the shock exit of the pre-tournament favourites: Judd Trump, Mark Allen, John Higgins and Neil Robertson this event seems more open than ever and apart from 2008 champion Murphy none of the four have won it before so they will all strive their hardest to win snooker's second biggest trophy this weekend no doubt.
Ali Carter faces Shaun Murphy on Friday and Mark Selby will play his semi-final against Mark Davis on Saturday with the best-of-19 final coming on the Sunday.