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Brecel rally frustrates Si's bid to reach snooker world final

Impressive recovery - Belgium's Luca Brecel . ©AFP

London (AFP) - Belgium's Luca Brecel threatened another remarkable comeback win as he prevented China's Si Jiahui from reaching snooker's World Championship final with a session to spare.

The 20-year-old Si, bidding to become the youngest finalist at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre and the first debutant world champion since Terry Griffiths back in 1979, surged into an 11-5 lead after play resumed Friday.

Brecel, however, also aiming to reach his first world final, ended the day 14-10 behind after winning five frames in a row.

Si still needs just two more frames to clinch victory in the best-of-33 contest.

But with the 28-year-old Brecel having won seven successive frames in a stunning come-from-behind win over reigning champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the quarter-finals, this last-four clash is now back in the balance.

No Chinese player has yet won the world title, although Ding Junhui was beaten in the 2016 final by England's Mark Selby, now involved in a gritty semi-final against Mark Allen. 

Si, ranked 80 in the world, showed few signs of nerves after resuming with an overnight lead of 5-3.

The qualifier won four of Friday's first five frames, with a contribution of 122 the best of a quartet of breaks all worth more than 50 points each.

He received a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of a session notable for his long potting following contributions of 55 and 71.

Si carried on from where he left off come the start of Friday's evening session to go 14-5 up with breaks of 90, 132 and 97.

But the pressure then finally appeared to tell on Si as he at last missed some tough and risky pots, with the 28-year-old Brecel also producing fine snooker of his own during breaks of 108, 60, 66 and 53 as he won the next five frames.

Thrilling snooker was in short supply in the other semi-final.

The match was halted three frames earlier than scheduled as Selby edged into a 7-6 lead over Northern Ireland's Allen.

Safety play was the order of the day in a match where both players appeared unduly reluctant to take on key pots.

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry, commentating for the BBC, said: "A dark cloud came over the match table at the Crucible...It's almost like they're trying to be too precise, too exact in their matchplay."

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