Judd Trump recovered from a 5-1 deficit to beat Barry Hawkins 6-5 and keep up his chances of retaining his title in their German Masters semi-final clash.
Trump was appearing in his first tournament since testing positive for Covid-19 but had shown no signs of suffering the side effects from the virus during his wins over Mark Davis, Joe Perry and Ding Junhui. However, for much of this match, the world number one struggled.
It was Hawkins who made the stronger start of the two players, racing out in front with a clearance of 101 to win the opening frame with Trump potting a solitary ball.
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Hawkins missed a long red at the start of the second, setting Trump onto a break of 26 which was curtailed by a poor shot on a thin yellow. Hawkins raced to 47 but a shocking miss on his own on a straight red allowed the favourite to get back on level terms, clearing up to the pink.
Undettered, Hawkins was back on form in the third, winning a safety battle to record a half century. Trump came back to make it tight but failed to get the snooker he needed on the blue, allowing the 41-year-old to come through.
It got even better for the underdog from there, with some uncustomary poor cuing from Trump curtailing a break of 28, allowing Hawkins to claim a 3-1 break at the interval thanks to a clearance to the pink.
The pause in play did nothing to improve the form of the out-of-sorts former world champion, whose poor safety surrendered the fifth frame to his opponent.
He went from strength to strength, with a fine total clearance of 140 put him just a single frame from victory.
Hawkins knocks in fabulous 140 break against Trump
Staring defeat in the face, Trump suddenly came to life, recording back-to-back breaks of 131 to put him back in contention and heap the pressure on Hawkins.
Trump digs in against Hawkins with century break of 131
A superb long red set Trump on his way to a third century to make it 362 points without reply and pull his way back into contention.
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Hawins finally stemmed the flow against him after both players opted for safety but a run of 30 was ended by a missed red to the centre pocket. Suddenly, having been on the brink of defeat, Trump was level and in the driving seat with all the momentum.
Hawkins mustered 15 points across two visits to the table before Trump took an unassailable lead in the decider. Hawkins returned to the table needing snookers but could not do enough to haul himself back into it and reach the final.
Trump will play his close friend Jack Lisowski in the final after he recorded a 6-2 win over Tom Ford.
Two breaks of 68 got Lisowski, himself recovering from Covid, off to a strong start and he was soon 3-0 up after edging out the third.
Ford hit 104, the highest break of the match, to get on the board but Lisowski made 62 to restore his advantage.
Ford's 65 in the sixth made it 4-2 but Lisowski's pair of 80+ breaks in the last two frames gave him a convincing win.
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