/ Snooker

Michael Holt reaches first ever ranking semi-final in Shanghai

Updated: Friday, 20 Sep 2013 20:49 | Comments

Michael Holt is through to the semi-final of a ranking tournament for the first time ever
Michael Holt is through to the semi-final of a ranking tournament for the first time ever

There will be a mix of the old, the new and the hometown heroes in the semi-finals of the Bank of Communication Shanghai Masters.

Nottingham's 35-year-old Michael Holt will play in his first ranking event semi after a long wait, with his opponent Xiao Guodong giving the Chinese fans an obvious favourite.

Also through is Ding Junhui - an extra cause of celebration for the snooker-mad Chinese public - and he will face World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins.

The story of Holt is perhaps the stand-out, though.

A professional since 1996 and a winner of two PTC events, the talented but inconsistent veteran finally seems to have cracked the code as he dismantled rookie Kyren Wilson 5-1.

He is now just two wins away from a career-high prize of £80,000 and told World Snooker: "It feels brilliant. Kyren has great potential so it's a good win for me.

"The scoreline makes it looks easy but it wasn't like that, you go through so many emotions in a match. I felt in control of myself, which is the main thing for me because then someone has to play well to beat me.

"Kyren has proved this week that he can play in a big arena which is a big step for anyone. I'm disappointed that I haven't done this before but that's in the past and I can only look forward. I feel great physically and mentally."

After his long wait for the big time Holt could have been forgiven for hoping support would fall on his side, but that is unlikely against home favourite Xiao.

He beat English veteran Mark Davis 5-4, despite going 3-1 down to the 6-Reds World Champion.

"I still had some problems in the first half of the match and it wasn't going well," said Xiao. "My opponent was playing pretty well and left me few chances.

"I took a rest in the interval and my coach calmed me down. I managed to play a more open game in the second half and I was concentrating on the game itself, which is important.

"I used to think about the result but I have changed my mindset this time. Terry Griffiths has helped me a lot on many departments of the game, especially break-building."

On the other half of the draw the expected clash between the world's one and two, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby, failed to materialise.

Robertson was ousted by Ding, 5-2 while Selby lost a decider against Hawkins.

Australian Robertson stuck with Ding across the first four shared frames, but his opponent cut loose after the interval, with contributions of 75 and 109 getting him home.

In the other match, Selby squandered 3-1 and 4-2 leads against the determined Hawkins, who took confidence into the decider after a clearing 140 to make it 4-4.

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