The four semi-finalists in the China Open are evenly matched in terms of age, ranking and titles.
Neil Robertson, 31, has won the most ranking titles with six to his name and has also been world champion. He is looking for his first major ranking event success since winning the 2010 World Open.
Shaun Murphy, 30, is also a world champion. He has won four ranking titles, the most recent the 2011 PTC Grand Finals.
Stephen Maguire, 32, a former UK champion, won his fifth ranking title last month at the Welsh Open.
Mark Selby, 29, the reigning UK Championship and Masters champion and back as world no.1, has won three ranking titles.
So it’s a quality line-up and any of the four players left has a claim on the title.
However, I’m sure Murphy would admit he could easily have gone out yesterday when he trailed Jack Lisowski 4-2. Murphy did not storm back with three brilliant frames, as is often his way, but exploited his clearly nervous young opponent’s mistakes effectively.
Maguire dismissed his performance as ‘garbage’ in beating Stuart Bingham 5-1 but the Scot has played consistently well for the last few months and, crucially, has been getting the results.
Selby seems to have got out of the trough of form which followed his Masters success in January and had too much for Mark Williams.
Robertson was in danger of getting sucked into a game which better suited Marcus Campbell but made three sizable frame winning breaks in amongst all the safety.
I wouldn’t describe the semi-final line-up as the ‘usual suspects’ because this demeans the people involved. Each of them is a world class snooker player, each of whom has won big titles on big stages.
It sets the tournament up for a thrilling weekend as the battle of Beijing enters the final strait.