Zhao Xintong reeled off the last five frames to reach the final of the German Masters with a 6-3 win over Ricky Walden.
In a match that featured plenty of costly misses by both players, Walden had a gilt-edged chance to take a 4-1 lead but missed a relatively easy green that allowed Zhao to steal the frame. And Walden never recovered as the Chinese player kept his composure down the stretch to book his spot in the final.
It was another impressive victory by Zhao, who is coming off a breakthrough win at the UK Championship and beat Mark Williams and Judd Trump at the Berlin Tempodrom on his way to the semis. He'll face the winner between Mark Allen and Yan Bingtao in the final.
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Zhao made a shaky start, though, and Walden jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the opening session after making the most of several unforced errors from his opponent.
The Englishman opened with a break of 74 after Zhao missed a black at short range and left his opponent an easy red to get going.
Both players then missed chances to take control of the second frame but it was Zhao’s mistake at 45-42 up that proved decisive as Walden managed to close it out for a 2-0 lead.
Walden had a 14-0 lead in the third before making an error when attempting to run safe, and that gave Zhao the chance he needed to settle into the match. He player reeled off a classy break of 78 to put his first frame on the board.
Zhao should have made it all square at the interval after building a break of 51 in the fourth frame before missing a relatively easy pink into the right centre, and Walden responded with a ruthless run of 66 to build a 3-1 lead.
But Zhao managed to steal the fifth frame in dramatic fashion after Walden methodically built a break of 60 only to miss the green off the spot. Zhao then needed a superb recovery shot to pot the brown and nearly missed the blue before pulling within one.
That proved the key momentum swing in the match.
In the sixth, Zhao jumped out to a 65-1 lead and nearly had the frame wrapped up but he failed to get onto a red and then played a poor safety shot to give Walden an opening. The Englishman couldn't punish his opponent that time, though, as he missed the final red when on 31 and Zhao went on to level the match.
It was a procession from there. After taking a 4-3 lead, Zhao made a break of 72 to win the eighth frame and then reached the first ton of the match to see out the win.
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