Mark Selby produced a typically stubborn display at the English Open, coming from 3-0 down to beat Mei Xi Wen 5-3 in their quarter-final match.
Selby was a long way from his best for long periods of the match, particularly in the first mini-session when a simple missed red in the opening frame proved the introduction to a ragged and error-laden performance.
Fresh from his touchstone victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday, Xi Wen looked calm and assured from the off and skipped into the lead thanks to a measured break of 108 in the opening frame which showed him to be cueing beautifully.
Xi Wen quickly doubled his lead when dominating frame two and while he was beginning to look increasingly confident, Selby cut a frustrated figure, missing from distance with alarming regularity and looking devoid of ideas in the safety department.
When Xi Wen then added a break of 56 in frame three, another huge shock appeared to be on the cards in Crawley but Selby dug in, keeping his hopes alive by winning the fourth frame and reducing his arrears to 3-1 at the break.
Upon the resumption, Selby was still battling to find his best form but he produced his first notable contribution to win frame five, a run of 69 finally allowing the former world number one to find some rhythm, though Xi Wen twice forced Selby into fouls when needing a snooker and was left to rue a missed blue when attempting to pinch the frame from under Selby’s nose.
With the momentum now starting to swing, Selby added breaks of 70 and 132 to lead for the first time in the match at 4-3, finally warming to the task as a place in the semi-finals drew closer.
All the while Xi Wen was beginning to wilt under the onslaught and Selby masterfully controlled frame eight to inch over the line, sealing his 5-3 victory and another one of his great escapes.
A relieved Selby told Eurosport: "I'm obviously happy to win.
"At the start I was quite poor. Mei played ok, not fantastic, but he was just picking up my pieces.
"I managed to nick the fourth frame which was big. When I got back to 3-2 I started feeling a bit better with my game, feeling a bit more confident.
"In the last 12-15 months, I've been playing one good game and then playing a poor game and not really getting any consistency, for what reason I don't know.
"I'll keep going and hopefully it'll come."
Allen eases past Walker
Mark Allen barely had to break sweat as he brushed aside Lee Walker 5-1 in a painfully one-sided quarter-final.
Walker would have harboured hopes of reaching the first ranking semi-final of his career having defeated Judd Trump and Gary Wilson with brilliant performances on Thursday but he was unable to scale those heights a day later.
A nervy start from the Welshman allowed Allen to draw first blood with a break of 54 and he doubled his lead when getting the better of a second frame where both players had their fair share of chances.
Despite taking control of the third time frame courtesy of another half-century, this time a run of 51, Allen took his time to kill the frame off and only Walker’s own misfiring cue stopped him from reducing his arrears having been gifted a number of chances to steal the frame.
Allen only needed one chance to extend his lead further in frame four, a beautiful opening red from distance paving the way for a fabulous run of 80 that was full of stun shots and clever cannons so typical of the reigning Scottish Open champion.
Returning from the mid-session interval faced with a 4-0 deficit, Walker had it all to do and would have been disappointed when breaking down on 33 when in first and appearing well-set to get a frame on the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, a missed red along the rail from Allen let Walker finally put the frame to bed though his celebrations were to be prove short-lived, Allen taking frame six in a couple of visits, easing over the winning line and setting up a semi-final against Mark Selby on Saturday afternoon.
Allen told Eurosport afterwards: "I'm happy enough with the way I played.
"Lee can dictate play sometimes but I potted the right balls at the right time, played some good safety, and always felt in control.
"The only frame I missed balls was the third but the rest of it was alright.
"It's going to be a tough match [against Mark Selby]. You know what Mark brings - he scores well, his all-round game is very good, he's good under pressure so you need to go out and play well.
"I'm quietly confident."
Whitewash for maximum man Ford
Tian Pengfei’s dream run in Crawley came to an end as he was whitewashed 5-0 by Tom Ford in the second of Friday evening’s two quarter-finals.
Ford, fresh from making a 147 maximum break against Shaun Murphy 24 hours earlier, continued his fine form with another impressive showing that left Pengfei bereft of answers.
After winning a tight opening frame that could have well have been lost, Ford took control of frame two with a break of 62 before punishing more errors from Pengfei to race into a 3-0 lead.
When adding a break of 52 in frame four, Ford was on the cusp of only his fourth ranking title semi-final appearance and he wasted little time in finishing the job after the mid-session interval, closing out the match with another classy contribution, this time a brilliant clearance of 128.
Gilbert denies Walden in cracker
David Gilbert took one step closer to winning his first ranking title when coming from behind to beat Ricky Walden 5-4 in a high-quality quarter-final.
Despite firmly establishing himself in the snooker's top 16, Gilbert is still without that maiden ranking title win having been beaten in three finals already, two of which came last term, but he is firmly on track to put that right this week following this classy and resilient display.
Last season's World Championship semi-finalist has started this season in much the same vein this time around and he withstood all that Walden could throw at him in this engrossing last-eight clash, rallying from 4-3 behind to win the deciding frame courtesy of an excellent match-winning break of 75.
For Walden's part, it will be a case of what if as he finally recaptured the form that saw him win the 2008 Shanghai Masters, the 2012 Wuxi Classic and 2014 International Championship, compiling breaks of 91, 125 and 51 to lead 3-2 and 4-3 before a missed pink to the middle pocket in the deciding frame handed Gilbert a chance he so ruthlessly grasped.
When the match got under way, Gilbert quickly took control just had been widely predicted beforehand, racing into a 2-0 lead courtesy of breaks of 85 and 63 as Walden initially failed to settle.
Nevertheless, Walden has looked in good touch all week and he soon got a foothold in the match, a fabulous doubled red paving the way for a flawless clearance of 125 in frame four that levelled the scores at the mid-session interval.
When Walden took a scrappy frame five upon the resumption, it was now Gilbert's turn to find a response and he duly did, a run of 69 stopping the rot to bring him back to parity once more.
Another half-century put Walden back in front and within touching distance of the last four but Gilbert rallied superbly, forcing a decider with a calmly-taken run of 51 before holding his nerve to close out the match moments later.
It was Walden who was in first in the ninth and final frame but when left with a tricky pink to centre, he opted to force the issue, missing by some way and allowing Gilbert back to the table for what would prove to be an ultimately decisive visit.
Gilbert will face Tom Ford in the second of Saturday's semi-finals.
Gilbert told Eurosport afterwards: "It was a good game, I really enjoyed it.
"Once Ricky got going in the third frame, he's was just taking his chances and it was nice and free flowing.
"It was definitely a 50/50 game. Ricky's a quality player and he's probably more comfortable than me playing one a one-table set-up with his experience.
"I'm just enjoying my snooker at the minute - I feel like I've been close to playing well really recently."
English Open: Friday's schedule & results
Quarter-finals - best of 9 frames
TV Coverage: Eurosport
- David Gilbert 5-4 Ricky Walden
- Mark Selby 5-3 Mei Xi Wen
- Mark Allen 5-1 Lee Walker (1900 BST)
- Tian Pengfei 0-5 Tom Ford (1900 BST, table two)