Gary Wilson and Zhou Yuelong go head to head in the first of this year’s Scottish Open semi-finals in Edinburgh on Saturday.
The world number 20 locks horns with the world number 21 for the right to face either John Higgins or Noppon Saengkham in Sunday’s final at the Meadowbank Sports Centre.
Reigning champion Wilson is just two victories away from successfully defending his crown, and becoming the second player to achieve that feat at this event after Mark Selby in 2020.
The Tyneside Terror will have arrived in Edinburgh fairly short on confidence, having failed to progress beyond the last 32 of any ranking tournament this season.
But he has enjoyed a timely upturn in fortunes to reach his eighth ranking semi-final and third in the Home Nations Series – also doing so at the 2018 Welsh Open.
Wilson came through three deciders at the start of the week, but has dropped just a single frame in his victories over Rory Thor and Chris Wakelin – whitewashing the latter – and produced nine frame-winning breaks along the way.
But he now faces a player desperate to get a first ranking title under his belt in Zhou – a beaten finalist on three occasions.
One of those came at last season’s Northern Ireland Open, where he was runner-up to Mark Allen, and this represents his only other venture to the last four of a Home Nations event.
A quarter-finalist at the UK Championship and English Open, Zhou is enjoying his best performance of the campaign. After receiving a last-64 walkover following Martin Gould’s withdrawal, he dropped just two frames in his wins over Andrew Higginson and Dominic Dale.
The Chinese then demonstrated brilliant bottle in his quarter-final with Stuart Bingham, who recovered from 4-1 down to level at 4-4, as a break of 70 in the decider saw him over the line.
Zhou came out on top the only previous time that he and Wilson collided in a semi-final, the Jumping Dragon prevailing 6-5 at the 2020 European Masters.
Neutrals will certainly be hoping for more of the same when play gets under way at 1pm GMT on Saturday, with the best of 11 frames determining who advances to the final at the Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh.
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