DING JUNHUI sent out a real statement of intent as far as his World Championship hopes were concerned after thrashing Mark Williams to reach the semi-finals with a day to spare.
China’s number one ranked star beat the two-times world champion 13-3 with a dominant display inside just two sessions which edged him closer to his first World Championship title.
Because of his emphatic win over the Welshman, Ding can enjoy Wednesday off to prepare for his semi-final clash where he will play either Alan McManus or John Higgins.
It appears Ding has returned to the form which has seen him win eleven major ranking titles in a successful career and will no doubt be hopeful of becoming the first Asian player to lift the world title in the history of the game.
Earlier this month a bad run of form, including a shock early exit in the China Open, meant Ding for the first time in a number of years had to qualify for snooker’s biggest event after he slipped below the top 16 of the world rankings.
But wins against three seeds in Martin Gould, Judd Trump and Williams now means Ding stands two just wins away from capturing his biggest title yet.
It is only the second time Ding has reached the semi-finals of the World Championship with the last time taking place five years ago when he lost 17-15 to Trump.
After the match Ding said: “After 2-2 things just changed. I think I controlled the match, I took my chances to make breaks.
“I have confidence and every time I see a chance I think I can go for it and make breaks.
“Mark didn’t play the way he normally does, everyone finds it hard to play with a new tip. The day off is a bonus, I’ve never had that before, and I’m going to enjoy the day.
“I feel more relaxed now, in this match I released a lot of pressure, I went for crazy shots.”
Elsewhere, Mark Selby stands just three frames away from reaching the semi-finals after taking an overnight 10-6 lead over Kyren Wilson.
Selby, who won the World Championship two years ago, dominated the opening session winning seven out of the first eight frames before Wilson produced a comeback winning the first four frames of the evening session to go 7-5 behind.
But Selby responded well after the mid-session interval winning three of the next four frames to put him in pole position going into Wednesday.
Should Selby win that match he could face Marco Fun in the semi final after the Hong Kong star took a commanding 7-1 lead against Barry Hawkins at the close of the first session.
Hawkins the night before came through a gripping decider to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan but he could not take the momentum into his last eight tie as Fu dominated to take a significant lead.
Breaks of 73, 76 and 81 helped Fu go 5-0 ahead. Hawkins took the sixth frame by clearing from blue to black, but Fu took the next two with runs of 66, 50 and 57.
And John Higgins will resume his quarter-final tie with Alan McManus with a slender 5-3 advantage after coming back from 3-1 down.