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Mark Allen v Matthew Stevens: International Championship Semi-Final preview - Pistol aims to shoot down Welsh Dragon

Allen and Stevens look on in 2011 (credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Mark Allen aims to book his place in a third International Championship final at the expense of a resurgent Matthew Stevens in Daqing on Friday.

Allen, runner-up in 2014 and 2017, is bidding to move a step closer to a fourth career major ranking title and a first televised triumph since The Masters back in January.

The Antrim ace has been in formidable scoring form this week, compiling eight century breaks, including the highest of the tournament so far - a majestic 146 in his Second Round win over Hossein Vafaei.

Stevens, meanwhile, is appearing in his first ranking Semi-Final for five years; the last time he made it this far came at the 2013 World Open - where he was eventually beaten 10-4 by Allen in the final.

The former Masters and UK Champion has underlined his sheer tenacity by coming through three consecutive last-frame deciders en route to the Semis and is out to remain on course to end a staggering 15-year wait for a ranking title.

Stevens began his run with a 6-4 victory over Northern Ireland's Jordan Brown, before edging out Mark King in a deciding frame to reach the Last 16.

There, he held his nerve to dispatch home favourite Ding Junhui in another last-frame shoot-out, before repeating that feat against Martin O'Donnell in Thursday's Quarter-Finals.

In contrast, Allen's path to the penultimate stage has become more straightforward as the week has gone on, having begun with a hard-fought 6-5 victory over Liam Highfield in Round One.

He then went on to defeat Iran's Vafaei 6-3 before thrashing Alfie Burden 6-1 and whitewashing Ali Carter to continue his charge towards the £175,000 top prize.

The duo have met six times in previous ranking competition and have shared the spoils three apiece, with Stevens coming out on top 5-4 in their most recent encounter in last year's China Championship.

Stevens was also a 13-7 winner in the Last 16 of the 2007 World Championship, before Allen exacted his revenge with a 10-9 win in the opening round at The Crucible four years later.

Their best of 17 Semi-Final gets underway from 6am GMT for a total of eight frames before resuming to a conclusion from 11.30am.

Either 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson or in-form Jack Lisowski will await the winner in Sunday's final.


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Mark Allen v Matthew Stevens: International Championship Semi-Final preview - Pistol aims to shoot down Welsh Dragon

Mark Allen aims to book his place in a third International Championship final at the expense of a resurgent Matthew Stevens in Daqing on Friday.

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