Luca Brecel staged one of the most astonishing comebacks in snooker history as he won 11 frames in a row against China’s Si Jiahui to reach the World Championship final.
He will now face four-time world champion Mark Selby, who also won his semi-final 17-15 following a match with Mark Allen that went into the early hours of Sunday — the day of the final itself at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.
Selby was on the cusp of victory at 16-10 before Northern Ireland’s Allen reeled off five frames in a row.
The Englishman, however, held his nerve to reach his sixth world final.
Brecel, who won seven straight frames when coming from behind to defeat seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals, fell 14-5 behind 20-year-old qualifier Si.
But he won the final five frames of Friday’s evening session and carried on where he left off Saturday to end Si’s bid to become the youngest Crucible finalist and the first debutant world champion since Wales’ Terry Griffiths in 1979.
Brecel was the first player in Crucible history to overturn a nine-frame deficit.
The 28-year-old has now reached his first world final, having never previously got past the first round.
“To win is absolutely unbelievable, it is the biggest game of my life. I was in disbelief, I was shaking,” said Brecel
Si, bidding to become the second Chinese world finalist after Ding Junhui, beaten by Selby in the 2016 showpiece, showed admirable composure to end Brecel’s run of 11 frames with a break of 91.
The qualifier had chances to send the match into a final-frame decider before a red along the cushion allowed Brecel to close out a stunning success.
Si said Brecel had played “nearly perfect” snooker in the closing two sessions but that his own safety had let him down.
“I have realised there are flaws in my game, there are so many things I can still improve, so in the coming season I will be confident I can beat anyone,” said Si.
Selby had a slender 11-10 lead heading into Saturday’s final session of an often grinding encounter.
But he then won five frames in a row, a run that included a fine break of 103.
Allen then won the next five even though his highest break of the evening was only 48.
Selby, last crowned world champion in 2021, missed several chances to seal victory in an increasingly tense clash before a contribution of 64 in the 32nd frame left him on the brink of triumph once again.
He lost position before Allen, bidding to reach his first world final, missed a mid-range red.
That error opened the door for Selby to sink the red and colour he needed to seal victory in a match that ended at 12:47 am local time (2347 GMT) — just 12 hours before the scheduled start of the final.
“I was just happy to get over the line, I felt I played well from 11-10 to 16-10 and then missed a couple of chances,” said Selby.
“Luca will be fresh, he has had a night off, but if it means I only get 10 hours and playing in the World Championship final, I’d rather have that than have 24 hours off and be driving home.”
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