Mark Allen felt he capitalised on his experience after reaching the British Open final with a commanding 6-1 rout of Noppon Saengkham.
The Pistol was firing on all cylinders as he soared through to Sunday’s showpiece at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Appearing in his 30th ranking semi-final after knocking out Judd Trump and Mark Selby in successive rounds, Allen hit the ground running with two breaks of 69 sandwiching further contributions of 76 and 133 as he opened a 4-0 lead at the mid-session interval.
Saengkham, for whom this was only a third ranking semi-final and first in four years, potted just a single ball during the opening four frames. Although, he did produce a gutsy 48 clearance to avert the whitewash at 5-1.
However, he squandered an opportunity to steal the following frame – breaking down on 40 after Allen opened with 64 – and the six-time ranking event winner saw out a dominant victory.
“It was the perfect start today. I was pretty much flawless in the first four frames,” he told ITV. “It’s then just a matter of not doing anything silly.
“He pinched a frame and looked like he was going to pinch another, and you can’t help thinking: ‘Is this going to go wrong?’ But I played pretty well today.
“It’s a different type of pressure [coming into the match as favourite], but I feel like I handled it well. I just didn’t want to make it easy for Noppon. I knew if I started well and put him under pressure – it’s a big game for him as well, so I tried to capitalise on my experience.
“I played really good today but, in general, I feel like I’m not quite at my best yet. But that’s as good as I’ve played this week. If I keep that up tomorrow, then I’ve got a good chance.”
The only top-16 player still standing, world number 14 is an overwhelming favourite to lift the trophy on Sunday, when he faces either Ryan Day or Robbie Williams in the showpiece.
But the Antrim ace insists he will not be taking anything for granted as he hones in on a seventh ranking title.
“There’s a long way to go yet,” he added. “Fortunately, we don’t play snooker on paper and the favourites don’t always win, or else it would be quite a boring game.
“But it’s not often you get to this stage of a tournament and be the only top-16 player left. That in itself adds a little bit of pressure. But I enjoyed the experience of today; the table was beautiful, the crowd were great, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
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