Jostling for the right to take on Ronnie O'Sullivan or Judd Trump in the Betfair World Championship final are Chester's Ricky Walden and Kent's Barry Hawkins, who began their semi-final this evening.

Theirs is perhaps the most unlikely final-four pairing since Nigel Bond took on Andy Hicks in 1995, and Walden hit the front as he seized a 6-2 lead.

Hawkins had speculated that he might struggle with the pressure of the Crucible's semi-final set-up, featuring only one table in the arena and the gaze of the entire audience on the match.

So it proved, as he had a best break of only 19 in the opening four frames - one of which he somehow won - while Walden looked sharp and had runs of 91, 105 and 119 as he looked ready for the big stage.