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Snooker World Championship: Semi-Finals Preview

It’s not often that both winner and loser admit their quarter-final match at the World Snooker Championship was an absolute mongrel.

But that’s how Welsh qualifier Jak Jones felt after he had lost his clash against Mark Allen at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre – and Allen agreed.

Jones, who had carried Welsh hopes after Mark Williams crashed out in the last 16, had clung gamely to Allen’s coattails as the pair ground out their frames.

It was 4-4, then 8-8, then 10-10 before Jones’ play became increasingly scrappy and afterwards the Cwmbran cueman admitted: “I suppose it’s a decent tournament but so disappointed with how I played in this match.

“It was just a terrible match.

“I was missing easy balls, which I haven’t really done for the whole tournament, and then I suppose the occasion got on top of me a little bit.”

Norther Irishman Allen reached the last four at The Crucible for the first time since 2009 but he, too, wasn’t impressed by his own game or Jones’s.

“It was a complete slog, to be honest,” said Allen.

“The first session was really good but I was awful after that and it was just a matter of digging deep, trying to stay as positive as possible and trying to get 13 frames. That’s what I did.”

“I don’t mean this to sound bad to Jak, but that was like a three or four out of 10 performance. That really wasn’t good. But mentally, I was like a 12 out of 10 and ready for anything.

“Sometimes that’s more important and that’s a match I would have lost a few years ago.”

Jones was not the only one wishing they had found better form when it really mattered as Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered a shock quarter-final defeat to Luca Brecel.

O’Sullivan was looking for a record eighth world title and looked on the cards to make the last four easily enough when he led 10-6.

But Brecel – the Belgian Bullet – fired off seven frames on the trot to leave O’Sullivan gunned down, just as Brecel had pulled the trigger on Williams’ hopes a round earlier.

It means the semi-finals – which begin on Thursday afternoon – see Brecel take on China’s 20-year-old sensation Si Jiahui, who beat Anthony McGill, 13-12.

In the other clash to find a finalist, Allen will face Mark Selby, who put out the veteran John Higgins, 13-7.

Brecel has been the real start of the tournament so far. The 28-year-old reckoned he was “as drunk as hell” after celebrating his win over Williams.

But that didn’t him making some outrageous attacking breaks against O’Sullivan who admitted afterwards: “Luca played unbelievable.

“He’s such a good player, I love watching him play. His cue action, he gets through the ball so well. It’s incredible.

“I’d love to see him go and win it because that’s how snooker should be played. He’s a phenomenal talent and player.”

The defeat for O’Sullivan means Selby is the new favourite. He won the last of his four world titles back in 2021.

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