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“Terrier” Fan Zhengyi denies Ryan Day to secure semi-final spot

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Fan overcame Neil Robertson and Ryan Day on Tuesday (Taka G.Wu/Matchroom Multi Sport)

Fan Zhengyi joined Mark Selby in the Champion of Champions semi-finals after edging out Ryan Day 6-5 in the Group Three showpiece on Tuesday.

The tournament debutant hit two centuries and four more breaks over 50 as he recovered from 3-1 down to advance to the last four at the Bolton Whites Hotel.

It was the second decider of the day in which Fan prevailed, having stunned two-time champion Neil Robertson earlier on.

Despite the defeat, Day was full of praise for his opponent, who arrived at the event having won just two of the eight matches he had played since his European Masters triumph in February.

“I haven’t seen him play a lot,” the Welshman told ITV. “Obviously, he won the European Masters to get himself into this tournament. But we all remember that he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of that tournament.

“He’s obviously a very good player, it’s just taken a bit of time for him to readjust to being a tournament winner. I’m sure he’s going to go from strength to strength.”

Fan made a flying start to the Group Three final as he crashed in a magnificent 135 clearance, but he scored just one point in the next three frames as Day hit breaks of 87 and 72 to move 3-1 ahead at the interval.

However, the 21-year-old roared back upon the resumption of the contest with a stunning break of 130, with further contributions of 52 and 68 putting him back in front at 4-3.

World number 37 Fan looked good for 5-3, but he missed a routine blue to the right centre and Day ruthlessly cleared with 72 to level on the pink.

British Open champion Day, who was seeking his maiden Champion of Champions semi-final appearance having also beaten Kyren Wilson 4-3 earlier on, then produced a neat 93 clearance to force a decider.

It was the first time since 2013 that all three group games had gone to the wire, and it was Fan who held his nerve to get over the line.

“He was a bit like a terrier all night,” Day added. “I started the match really well. The interval came at the wrong time for me; he came out and made 130 to go 3-2.

“He just potted them off the lampshades in the second half of the match. I was quite lucky to get five [frames]. I made a couple of good clearances to force a decider, but I didn’t really have a good chance in the last.

“As well as I started, there was no head-dropping [from Fan] and he just stuck to his gameplan and executed most of it very well.”

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