Ding Junhui made it through to the semi-finals of this year’s Masters – but he was forced to do it the hard way after he sensationally forfeited a vital frame for fouling three times in a row.
China’s number one star survived a major scare to beat Belgium’s Luca Brecel 6-5 in a thrilling quarter-final encounter at London’s Alexandra Palace.
He next faces his idol Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday for a place in the grand final.
But a huge crowd could not believe their eyes when Ding lost an important frame in unusual circumstances after fouling for a third time after being given a warning by the referee.
The drama happened while the match was in a tense situation with the scores levelled at 4-4 in the race to six showdown.
With several reds still on the table, Brecel played a terrific safety which forced Ding into playing a containing shot aiming to use a cushion to nestle on the reds near the black spot – despite being able to directly hit one the reds full ball without the need of striking a cushion.
Ding agonisingly missed the red by millimeters on two occasions which prompted a forfeiture warning from referee Greg Coniglio – as are the rules of the game.
Despite this, Ding, bravely, played a similar shot only for it to fall short of the red for a third time – meaning the frame was over and Brecel was given a 5-4 lead.
But Ding used all his experience to battle back and claim a tense win as Brecel wasted great chances to claim what would have been another impressive win after beating defending champion Mark Allen in the first round.
A break of 57 helped Ding force a decider before a shocking miss on a red to the middle pocket by Brecel allowed the Chinese sensation the chance to win – and he took it with a break of 67.
Earlier in the day, seven times Masters winner O’Sullivan beat Ryan Day 6-3.
Welshman Day enjoyed a brighter start leading 2-1 at one stage but breaks of 119, 65, 78 and 92 helped the Rocket to clinch a semi-final place once again.
Ding and O’Sullivan will battle it out on Saturday afternoon starting at 1pm.
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