Perry and Carter neck and neck

Perry and Carter neck and neck

Joe Perry and Ali Carter are still deadlocked as their 888.com World Championship semi-final heads for a thrilling climax at the Crucible Theatre.

The duo shared the first four frames of the final session to be level at 14-14 in the best-of-33 showdown in the battle to face odds-on favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final.

Perry was first to strike during the evening session with runs of 57 and 38 securing him the opening frame.

Carter’s reply was impressive and, although he broke down on 63 with five reds remaining, it did not prove costly and another 44 brought him level.

Carter was first among the balls in the next with a 50 and was disappointed to miss a straightforward brown into the middle.

But it needed an outrageous fluked red from Perry to set him on the way to a break of 62 which enabled him to pinch the frame.

Carter put that disappointment behind him and a 46 helped him to again bring the match all square at the mid-session interval.

Almost inevitably there is a sense of anti-climax after the superb display by O’Sullivan in demolishing Stephen Hendry 17-6 in the other semi-final.

But there have been 21 breaks of 50 or more in a high-quality game between two players doing themselves justice in what was for both of them the biggest match of their snooker careers.

Carter had led 9-7 overnight but in the morning session amassed just 24 points before the mid-session interval as a see-saw clash took another turn in fortunes with Perry winning all four frames.

But Carter responded by winning three of the final four games of the morning to level the match again at 12-12 going into the final session.

Perry’s only final appearance during his professional career came in the 2001 European Open in Malta when he finished runner-up to Stephen Hendry.

Carter, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2003 but now has the illness under control, has reached two ranking semi-finals.

Awaiting the winner in the final is O’Sullivan who had the bonus of a day off to recharge his batteries after triumphing with a session to spare against Hendry.

Hendry believes that either Carter or Perry will come off second best if the Rocket produces a similar standard of play in the best-of-35-frame final on Sunday and Monday.

He said: “It was outstanding snooker. I thought he played fantastic. It was the best I’ve ever played against. He is the best player in the world now by a country mile.”

Cliff Thorburn, the 1980 world champion, believes the best is still to come from O’Sullivan and insists he can beat Hendry’s title record.

He said: “We haven’t seen the best of Ronnie yet and I can see him beating the record. The sky is the limit for the Rocket. It is ridiculous how good he is.

“He has made three maximums at the Crucible and I reckon he could go on to make 10 or 12 at this venue. He is so different to anything I have seen.

“But Hendry is the best ever. I would put Ronnie somewhere in between Hendry and Steve Davis at the moment.”

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