Shanghai Masters snooker: Ding Junhui to play Xiao Guodong in final
Last Updated: 21/09/13 7:33pm
Ding Junhui: Fancing Xiao in all-China final
It will be an all-Chinese final at the Shanghai Masters after Ding Junhui and Xiao Guodong came through their respective semi-finals.
Ding defeated Barry Hawkins 6-2 while Xiao, who had never previously been beyond the last eight of a ranking tournament, beat Michael Holt 6-3 to make his first final.
World number 12 Ding was the man expected to carry home hopes before the tournament as he seeks his seventh ranking title, but the fanatical Chinese snooker crowd will be able to take in an all-Chinese final thanks to Xiao's efforts.
Xiao had come all the way from the wild card round in Shanghai, though, beating Yuan SiJun, Stephen Maguire, Peter Lines and Mark Davis to reach the last four - before taking down World No 26 Holt.
Holt was also playing in his first ranking semi-final and Xiao took a 3-1 lead with the help of breaks of 64 and 96.
Holt hit back with 113 and 64 to level the game but the big breaks kept coming as a 111 put Xiao in front once more. He added a tight eighth frame before finishing the match with a superb 127.
The 24-year-old said: "I'm confident now and I'm going to lift the trophy tomorrow.
"This is what I've been desperate to do for years. It's not done if I lose. I have one more match to play, which will be my biggest stage in my career."
Ding then wrapped up a routine 6-2 success over an out-of-sorts Hawkins to set up the first ever all-Chinese final in a ranking event.
Ding won the first two frames and after Hawkins cut the deficit, the home player pulled away once more to lead 4-1.
A break of 90 could have been the catalyst for a Hawkins comeback but it was not forthcoming as Ding closed out the match.
The first of Ding's six titles to date came on home territory, at the 2005 China Open.