Ding Junhui moves close to World final, despite missed 147 chance

Marco Fu summoned the Crucible emergency services to rescue his Betfred World Championship title hopes after his cue tip dramatically fell off in a gripping semi-final against Mark Selby.

Fu was on the brink of leading the contest for the first time when, after reaching 33 on a break in frame 15, the Hong Kong cueman chalked his cue and off slid the tip, to his astonishment.

There was nothing to do but suspend the match, as a flummoxed Fu darted backstage to seek help, which came from the unflustered off-duty referee Paul Collier.

Collier, who will referee the final, carefully carried out the necessary repairs, with the tip entirely intact and merely needing to be glued back in place.

Had it cracked, Fu would have been in deep trouble, but the 38-year-old was able to return to the arena after an anxious 10 minutes to resume his break, which he stretched out to a frame-winning 81 and nudged 8-7 ahead.

World number one Selby took the last of the session to level the match at 8-8 overnight, with the best-of-33-frame contest continuing into morning and evening sessions on Saturday. On Sunday, Selby will hope he is competing in the final while his beloved football club Leicester attempt to become Premier League champions at Old Trafford.

Ding Junhui moves close to World final, despite missed 147 chance

Breaks of 135 and 114 had shown Fu to be the heavier scorer, but Selby's familiar battling qualities meant the 2014 world champion was not left trailing.

Former world number one Ding Junhui manoeuvred himself close to the finishing line against Alan McManus in their record-breaking semi-final as he moved 14-10 clear, and in the 20th frame he was seven balls away from snooker nirvana.

The 29-year-old from China was nudging towards a 147 break and it began to look a formality until he tripped up on position and over-cut the 15th black to stall on 113.

Had he made that, and added the colours, it would have been an 11th maximum at the Crucible. It would also have been the first since Stephen Hendry achieved the feat against Stuart Bingham in 2012, and worth £30,000 in bonuses to Ding.

He received a consolatory standing ovation having posted his sixth century of the match to equal the tournament record, set previously by Selby and Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Ding Junhui moves close to World final, despite missed 147 chance

It also earned Ding and McManus an entry in the history books all to themselves, with their nine centuries in the contest placing them one ahead of the previous high mark, which had been achieved five times previously.

McManus earlier savoured an ovation of his own during a startling scoring run as he reeled in Ding from 9-3 to 9-8, before the momentum switched. At 45, McManus is the oldest man to reach the last four at the Crucible since Ray Reardon in 1985, and he made breaks of 107, 136 and 125 during a mesmerising morning session.

The crowd, with many Scots populating the arena, roared on McManus throughout the evening, but Ding refused to yield as he improved the prospect not only of an arguably overdue maiden final appearance in Sheffield, the city which is his adopted home, but of a first all-Far East World Championship final.

More in this Section

Liam Williams makes early return to Scarlets from SaracensLiam Williams makes early return to Scarlets from Saracens

Former Munster scrum-half Alby Mathewson to join UlsterFormer Munster scrum-half Alby Mathewson to join Ulster

Jurgen Klopp: Premier League title not won yetJurgen Klopp: Premier League title not won yet

Wait continues on Andy Murray's fitness for singles return at Queen’sWait continues on Andy Murray's fitness for singles return at Queen’s


Lifestyle

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s growing resentful of her widowed mum’s needy behaviour.Ask a counsellor: My mother is so clingy since losing my dad – what can I do?

More From The Irish Examiner