World number 103 Joe O’Connor continued his incredible giant-killing run at the 2019 Welsh Open by dethroning defending champion John Higgins 5-3 to reach the Semi-Finals.
O’Connor who had never been beyond the Last 32 stage of a ranking tournament before arriving in Cardiff this week, produced another inspired display to pull off a third top ten scalp of the tournament.
Having already knocked out Kyren Wilson and Ding Junhui, Leicester’s O’Connor ended Higgins’ hopes of a sixth Welsh Open crown, rounding off victory with a career-high break of 131.
He will now face 2017 champion Stuart Bingham in the opening Semi-Final on Saturday.
“I don’t know what to say – this week is like a dream,” O’Connor told BBC Wales.
“It seems that the people I’ve played against haven’t been at their best which might have helped me but I’m over the moon.
“Having beaten Kyren and then Ding, I knew my game was there but John’s such a good match player, he kept coming back at me and I thought ‘this time he’s going to go in front and pull away’ so I was pleased I hung on.”
O’Connor showed little sign of nerve as he settled quickly with a break of 73 in the opening frame before doubling his lead, but back came Higgins with consecutive breaks of 84 and 106 to level at the interval.
O’Connor replied with a 70 break to regain the lead, and after Higgins made a 53 en route to sealing frame six, the Leicester underdog hit back with a 72 to lead 4-3 before compiling a tremendous clearance of 131 to clinch victory.
The afternoon’s opening Quarter-Final saw former World Champion Bingham dispatch emerging star Zhao Xintong 5-2.
Zhao began brightly with a break of 92 in the first frame before Bingham reeled off four in a row with clinical breaks of 134, 99, 59 and 67.
Chinese star Zhao stopped the rot with a break of 75 in frame six, but Bingham edged the seventh to complete the victory.