World number one Judd Trump beat John Higgins 6-4 to earn a showdown with Neil Robertson in the final of the English Open.
Trump fought hard to keep tabs on Higgins throughout the early exchanges, trailing 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3, but having levelled at 4-4 he was at last able to edge in front for the first time as a fluid game became tighter.
That proved decisive, Higgins now unable to afford a further mistake, and when that came courtesy of a luckless foul Trump was able to make it eight wins in succession against his veteran opponent.
Now he'll go for 10 wins in his last 10 ranking finals as he seeks a first of this new season.
"I fought I got outplayed," said Trump. "He was putting me under pressure. I was under it big-time, I thought he played well.
"Towards the end he had a couple of chances, and that last frame he was a little bit unlucky.
"He's one of the greatest players ever. The way he started off, I was fearing the worst. I didn't play my best today, that's why I'm surprised I won."
Higgins had been impressive throughout the tournament and continued in a similar vein, firing in breaks of 50, 52, 133 and 107 over the first seven frames, but it was his inability to turn a narrow lead into a significant one which shaped the game.
Trump was fighting hard to remain in touch early on, his highest break a lone century in frame four. But while things became scrappier, it was his ability to find the extra pot which proved decisive come the crunch.
Higgins was unfortunate to hand his young rival a golden opportunity in the 10th frame and returned to his chair with the face of a man who knew the game was up. So it proved, Trump again impressing with his composure and desire - attributes which will make him so hard to stop on Sunday.
Of facing Robertson, Trump added: "He’s a real heavy scorer and he obviously got through a tough game against Selby, so he’ll be raring to get another title under his belt.
"It’s another game I will enjoy. I enjoy playing him. Hopefully for me it’s a battle of scoring and I can come out on top."
Robertson rides his luck
Earlier, Robertson rode his luck and held his nerve to beat Mark Selby 6-5 in an engrossing encounter decided on the finest of margins.
Having led 5-3 and been pegged back to 5-5, Robertson looked in trouble as Selby knocked in a long red in the final frame, only to turn down a tricky brown and instead lay a snooker.
Robertson escaped, but on his next visit missed a reckless long red, which sent the white hurtling into the pack. Somehow, Selby wasn't on one and when the Aussie potted a shot to nothing soon after, it was he who had the frame-winning opportunity.
To his immense credit, the 38-year-old took full advantage with a break of 92 to finally shake off his opponent, who was always behind as he had been for much of the previous rounds.
Robertson, who bagged two centuries during the course of a generally impressive display, advances to face either Judd Trump or John Higgins in Sunday's final.
Selby said afterwards that he felt his opponent had enjoyed greater fortune along the way, a fact hard to dispute. Indeed it was at 2-2, with Selby in full flow, that the scales tipped in favour of Robertson.
Selby had taken the previous two frames for the loss of just eight points, breaks of 117, 58 and 73 seeing him draw level heading into the interval. Returning to the table, he was soon back among the balls only to foul when splitting the reds in frame five, leaving Robertson to mop up gratefully.
Robertson pressed on with breaks of 134 and 129 over the course of the next three frames to lead 5-3, only for Selby to come roaring back as he had done in earlier clashes with Chang Bingyu, Liang Wenbo, and Hossein Vafaei.
This time however his luck was to run out, though the decision to turn down a tricky, potentially match-winning brown may haunt him more than Robertson's stroke of luck.
“It was a fantastic match,” said Robertson. “Mark was as tenacious as ever. I had most of the run of the ball, we had a joke about it at the end. But you have to take advantage when it goes your way. I was lucky in the last frame when I missed the long red and didn’t leave Mark anything.
“Then he had a chance but he rolled up to the yellow to snooker me. When I had a similar chance I went for the brown because I’d rather lose a match going for a pot than playing safe.
“It will be a great final tomorrow. Judd and John are equally difficult opponents but present different challenges. Judd is more aggressive while John is very crafty. I’ll just try to play to my strengths.”