Tony Drago pulled off an emotional 4-3 victory over Mark Davis to reach the Semi-Finals of the World Seniors Championship at The Crucible on Saturday.
Drago came through a nail-biting last-frame decider to stun the world number 68 and continue his fairy-tale return in Sheffield.
The 57-year-old had stormed into a 3-0 lead before seeing Davis reel off three without reply to force a decider, but a crucial missed brown gifted ‘The Tornado’ a reprieve to seal victory.
A tearful Drago revealed post-match that he had learned of the passing of a close friend just hours before he was due to play.
“I lost my best friend of 35 years yesterday,” he told BBC Sport.
“He used to travel with me, I found out [the news] this morning on Facebook.
“I just wanted to win so much for him.”
The Malta legend took the opening frame with a half century, before doubling his lead after landing Davis in an awkward snooker behind the black.
He then added a third straight frame, before Davis got off the mark in style with a tournament high break of 137.
An astonishing fluke on the final red paved the way for Davis to reduce the deficit to one, and he followed in with a break of 98 to force a decider.
Both players had chances to kill off the match, but after Drago had missed the final brown, Davis failed to pot it to the left middle and handed his opponent a simple reprieve to clinch victory.
Drago will now face Jimmy White in Sunday’s Semi-Finals after the three-time World Seniors champion thrashed Australia’s Adrian Ridley 4-0.
White produced a vintage display to seal victory in little over an hour, firing in breaks of 76, 103, 80 and 84.
Meanwhile, Alfie Burden continued his impressive debut campaign by comfortably dispatching seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry 4-1.
Burden, who had defeated 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty 3-0 in Round One, took the first frame with a 64 break, but Hendry quickly levelled courtesy of a break of 62.
A missed red with the rest proved costly for Hendry in frame three as Burden regained the upper-hand and went on to claim the fourth to go 3-1 up.
The 46-year-old crushed Hendry’s hopes of a maiden World Seniors crown by piling in a break of 85 to seal the deal in style.
Earlier in the day, Ben Hancorn continued his dream debut at The Crucible by edging out Gerard Greene in a deciding frame.
Hancorn, the youngest player in the competition at 40, compiled breaks of 98 and 116 in a high quality encounter to deny the Northern Irishman.
Sunday sees the Semi-Finals take place in the afternoon, before the final is held in the evening, with the winner securing a place in the Champion of Champions.
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World Seniors Championship 2023 Day Four Results
Saturday May 6
Ben Hancorn 4-3 Gerard Greene
Tony Drago 4-3 Mark Davis
Jimmy White 4-0 Adrian Ridley
Alfie Burden 4-1 Stephen Hendry
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