Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter will face each other in the second of this weekend’s Northern Ireland Trophy semi-finals.
It will be the first time the pair have met since the world champion and number one O’Sullivan beat Carter 18-8 in last season’s World Championship final in Sheffield.
Carter impressed with a 5-2 victory against Belfast’s Mark Allen in their quarter-final clash, but crowd favourite O’Sullivan had to dig deep to clinch a 5-4 win over Barry Hawkins.
“I think Barry played better, he deserved to win,” said O’Sullivan, who had match breaks of 122, 126 and 110.
“I had a chance to win at 4-1 and also at 4-2, but I missed a couple of balls. He choked a bit, you have put those chances away.
“He had his chances in the last frame, but he missed a ball he should have potted. That was the difference.”
O’Sullivan, who will be appearing in his 48th ranking event semi-final tomorrow, led 4-1, but also failed to finish off his opponent.
That allowed Hawkins to fight back and, with runs of 126 and 51, the Dartford player forced a decider.
But it was O’Sullivan who held his nerve to clinch the decider and a meeting with Carter in the next stage.
Carter impressed against Allen, breaks of 50, 84 and 42 enough for a semi-final berth.
“I didn’t play that well, it was a tough match for both of us,” said Carter. “I think my experience showed in the end, I didn’t take too many risky shots on.
“The black I missed at the end of the fifth frame was a tricky one, it was similar to the last black in my 147 at the Crucible.
“I just thought to myself that I’m glad I got the one for the maximum and missed this one rather than the other way around.
“I put it behind me straight away, which is the difference between the way I am now and how I was before.
“I’m into another semi-final and pushing on bit by bit. I’m happy to have another crack at Ronnie, I wouldn’t mind playing him in every tournament as you always learn something from him.”
Earlier in the day John Higgins, the two-time world champion, beat Preston’s Ian McCulloch 5-3, while Stoke qualifier Dave Harold defeated Stephen Maguire, the defending champion, 5-2 thanks to breaks of 64, 67 and 77.