Allen sets up Walden clash
Mark Allen will meet Ricky Walden in the UK Championships semi-finals in York after he edged Marco Fu 6-5 in a thriller on Thursday night.
Allen dug deep for victory after his Chinese opponent had won three successive frames to take a 5-4 lead.
Fu appeared to be on the verge of moving into the last four but the Northern Irish player did not buckle under the pressure and booked his meeting with Walden who enjoyed a surprise 6-3 victory over Shaun Murphy.
Neil Robertson beat Ding Junhui 6-2 to book a semi-final spot with Judd Trump who secured a 6-3 win over Stephen Maguire.
Allen was first to show in a cagey opening and he looked sharper than his opponent who never got going to take an uninspiring opening frame.
Matters continued in the same vein in the second frame with Fu failing to even hit the ball on his first visit to the table whereas Allen was clearly picking up in form.
However, Fu finally found some form in the third scoring 73 and reducing the deficit to 2-1.
The Hong Kong player maintained his form in the next frame with a break of 68 to draw level.
The next frame was drawn but it was Allen who won on the respotted black.
Allen then opened up a 4-2 lead but a break of 131 saw Fu claim the next.
Allen seemed to have the eighth won but Fu drew level with an emphatic 63 clearance for 4-4.
The 33-year-old then went ahead for the first time after winning three in a row and he appeared to be on the verge of victory but Allen dug deep and a break of 66 saw it go to 5-5 to send the match into a decider.
Allen then came to life in the final frame and his relief was palpable as he moved into the last four.
It will be Walden's first appearance in the semi-finals.
The world number 22 eased through the first frame with a break of 70, but gifted the second and third to Murphy.
Walden levelled before confidently taking the next three frames.
Murphy secured the eighth with a 61 break, but Walden secured the win with a break of 71.
Earlier, Trump had powered into the semi-finals with a 6-3 victory over Maguire.
Maguire took the opening frame but Trump stormed back to take the next five frames in a row, including consecutive breaks of 106.
And after Scotland's Maguire reduced the deficit to 5-3 with breaks of 62 and 80, Trump sealed the win in style with a break of 120.
The 22-year-old from Bristol, who reached the final of the World Championship in May, said: "When I am out there now I just feel so confident in front of the cameras.
"Last season I just did not want to be out there but now I'm just trying to get as much TV coverage as possible and get used to it."
Trump will face Robertson after the former world champion beat Ding 6-2.
The players were level at 2-2 at the mid-session interval before Australian left-hander Robertson won the next four frames in succession.
Robertson was delighted with his performance, adding: "When there is more riding on the match I tend to play a lot better.
"I just love winning tournaments and playing in semi-finals and finals, and I felt so confident and was convinced I was going to win."
Meanwhile, Ali Carter yesterday backtracked somewhat on his apparent intention to retire at the end of the season.
The former World Championship finalist said on Twitter on Wednesday: "Thanks for all your messages.
"Maybe I should have kept my thoughts to myself! They were obv in the heat of the moment but I also genuinely have some serious thinking to do about my future at the end of this season and what direction I want to head."