Mark Williams admitted he was delighted to see a close match go his way after overcoming Yan Bingtao 13-11 in a thrilling Crucible quarter-final.
The three-time World champion set up a showdown with Judd Trump after booking his place in the last four of snooker’s blue-riband event for the seventh time.
Williams took early command on Tuesday as he surged into a 6-2 lead, but was pegged back to 8-8 by a resurgent Yan, who then moved 10-8 and 11-10 to the good in the final session.
Nevertheless, the 47-year-old held his nerve with timely breaks of 66 and 78 in the final two frames seeing him over the line.
The Welshman has been on the wrong end of closely fought battles at the bigger events this season.
He notably lost to Neil Robertson on the black from the snookers required stage in the Masters semi-finals, while he also went down 10-9 to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the opening round of the Tour Championship.
And the world number eight was thrilled to see his fortunes change against the Tiger, who was born three months before his maiden Crucible triumph in 2000.
“I’m over the moon. At 10-10, he started to have a few flicks and couple of big flukes,” said Williams.
“I thought another close game was going to go against me.
“I’ve had a lot of close games all year and lost them all, so I think I deserved one.
“The two breaks I made to win are probably as good as I’ve done in the whole tournament.
“I can’t believe I’m still competing with the big boys, getting to semi-finals and winning a couple of tournaments. At my age, it’s unbelievable.”
Williams also highlighted the importance of emerging from a poor second session on level terms, taking the last frame when Yan appeared set to establish a 9-7 overnight advantage.
“Last night, I was dead on my feet,” he added. “Two sessions in one day absolutely killed me.
“If the match had finished last night, he would have won – no question.
“I couldn’t get anything going at all; it was terrible.
“I was 6-2 in front and I’ve never been so glad to lose [the second session] 6-2 in my life. I was absolutely delighted going to bed.
“To nick that last frame was massive. I came out today and played a lot better.”