So a big day beckons at the Shanghai Masters for Michael Holt and Xiao Guodong, one of whom will end it in their first ranking tournament final.
Holt showed good attitude and poise in beating Kyren Wilson 5-1. Xiao fought back strongly from 4-2 down to defeat Mark Davis 5-4, although Davis seemed to feel the pressure towards the end.
The difference between these two maiden semi-finalists is that Holt has waited a long time for it – 17 years in fact.
He has won two PTC titles, beating John Higgins in the final of one, but this week represents a huge step forward for the likeable if volatile Nottingham man.
What he seems to be doing at the moment is playing the balls rather than the occasion. In other words, he is not thinking about what it all means but just concentrating on each frame.
If Xiao wins it could set up an historic all Chinese ranking final as Ding Junhui has probably played the best snooker of the tournament and has Barry Hawkins as his opponent in the second semi-final.
That said, Hawkins has a very good record against him, winning all their TV encounters, and came back from 4-2 down to edge Mark Selby 5-4 in their quarter-final.
But whatever the ‘zone’ is, Ding looks to be in it. What’s particularly impressed has been his tactical game. Employing shrewd, mature safety he has demonstrated the patience required to win matches against world class players.
There would be no more popular winner this weekend. It’s been eight and a half years since Ding won the 2005 China Open as an 18 year-old.
The boy has become a man. He can be inconsistent but when he plays well he’s a fearsome prospect.
Hawkins beat him at the World Championship and has every reason to be confident, so it could be a great game. The first semi-final, on the other hand, is surely going to be tense with such a huge prize at stake.