The semi finals were shaping up yesterday at the Crucible, with David Gilbert still leading John Higgins by 13-11, whilst Judd Trump is 9-7 ahead on Gary Wilson.
Ronnie wasn’t in the studio but he was with Rachel on the floor and also commentating on matches from the commentary box.
Here is how it unfolded
Morning session – Gilbert 10-6 Higgins (source Worldsnooker)
David Gilbert got the better of the second session with John Higgins to extend his advantage to 10-6 in their Betfred World Championship semi-final.
They came into this morning with Gilbert leading 5-3, having edged the first session. The Tamworth potter kicked on from there and dominated the opening stages this morning, while four-time Crucible king Higgins looked out of sorts in the first half of the session.
Gilbert got the action underway in spectacular style, firing in a break of 125 to go further ahead at 6-3. Higgins had appeared to be in position to respond immediately, before missing a black off the spot. Gilbert capitalised by clearing to take the frame on the pink and move 7-3 in front.
A clearance of 35 then saw Gilbert take the next on the black and press home his dominance with a five-frame lead at 8-3. However, world number 16 Gilbert’s momentum was halted when he missed a crucial pink to the middle, whilst leading 56-17. Higgins went on to steal the frame on the black and trail 8-4 at the mid-session.
That acted as a catalyst for Higgins, who forced himself back into the contention when they returned. Breaks of 67, 52 and 58 helped him to claim the next two frames to make it 8-6.
Gilbert then ensured he would lead heading into this evening, claiming the 15th frame with a break of 72. There was then a dramatic last frame of the session. Higgins missed the final blue along the baulk cushion on a break of 50, allowing Gilbert to take out a tricky clearance to the black and emerge with a four-frame lead at 10-6.
They will return at 7pm to play the third session of the best of 33 encounter.
John Higgins played incredibly badly before the MSI. Steve Davis in the BBC studio looked absolutely nonplussed. Yet somehow he managed to get three frames out of this session….
Afternoon session – Trump 9-7 Gary Wilson (source Worldsnooker)
World number seven Trump took four frames in a row during the session as he tried to stamp his authority on the tie. But Wilson took the last frame and the contest remains in the balance going into Saturday’s conclusion.
Bristol’s Trump is aiming to reach the final for second time, having lost to John Higgins in 2011. World number 32 Wilson had never won a match at the Crucible before this year, but has enjoyed a superb run to the last four.
Wallsend’s Wilson took the opening frame today with an excellent 65 clearance to lead 5-4. Trump made a 56 as he recovered to 5-5 before a tense 35-minute 11th frame went Wilson’s way.
Masters champion Trump then stepped up a gear as runs of 73, 123 and 75 helped put him 9-6 ahead. Wilson then knocked in a break of 77 in frame 16 to reduce his deficit.
They return at 10am for eight more frames, with the remainder to be played from 7.30pm on Saturday. First to 17 goes through to the final to meet John Higgins or David Gilbert.
Crucially for Gary Wilson, he managed to win the last frame of the session with an excellent break of 77. Psychologically this may prove to be an important moment in this match. After the MSI, Gary had been outplayed and looked defeated. However he finished the session on a positive, not only because he won the last frame – therefore trailing only by two – but because of the way he won it.
Evening session – Gilbert 13-11 Higgins (source Worldsnooker)
Four-time Crucible king John Higgins took the third session of his Betfred World Championship semi-final clash with world number 16 David Gilbert, but still trails 13-11.
Gilbert is competing in the one-table setup at the Crucible for the first time. While in stark contrast Higgins is aiming to reach an eighth World Championship final. That would see him equal Steve Davis and move one behind Stephen Hendry’s nine world final appearances.
They came into this evening with Gilbert holding a 10-6 advantage, after the former potato farmer from Tamworth got the better of this morning’s second session.
37-year-old Gilbert took the opening frame tonight with a break of 56. Higgins then got himself off the mark for the evening in the following frame with an extraordinary shot. The Scot deposited a table length double on the final black to make it 11-7.
Gilbert restored his five-frame advantage with a break of 75, before Higgins hit back to make it 12-8 heading into the mid-session.
Wishaw’s Higgins then fired in a sublime 143 break to close within three frames at 12-9. The contribution was the 86th century of the tournament so far. That equals the record tally, set in 2015 and 2016.
Gilbert then composed fine break of 91 to make it 13-9, before a tense ending to the session. Higgins claimed a scrappy 23rd frame to close the gap. The last frame of the evening saw both players miss opportunities, as it all came down to the final red. A safety error from Gilbert left a free ball and Higgins capitalised to emerge just two frames behind at 13-11.
They will return for the concluding session tomorrow afternoon at 2:30pm
One senses that David Gilbert has to start well this afternoon or John Higgins will smell blood and will probably take the upper hand in the match. Experience matters and David looked nervous yesterday.
What’s great with Ronnie is that he doesn’t feel the need to babble when unnecessary and he very rarely is harsh on the players. He knows how difficult it is.
By tonight we will know our two finalists. The evening session has re-scheduled and is now due to start at 7:30 pm local time instead of 7 pm. That’s almost certainly a request from the BBC, but to me, it’s unfair on the players. The last session of the semi finals is usually extremely tense and if the match is close, it’s also a long one. They have potentially nine frames to play. Whoever emerges from the evening session as the winner, will also have filming to do with the BBC, after the press conferences. And they will be high on adrenaline. That player will have a very short night and is more likely to come to his first session on the final quite tired, even if they started at 7 pm. Pushing it even later is certainly not great.