Ding Junhui wrote his name firmly into the World Championship history books as he overcame a spirited Alan McManus 17-11 to book a first ever world final spot.
Ding became the first Asian player to reach a World Championship final, while he also set a new benchmark for the most centuries in a single match by knocking in a remarkable seven ton-plus breaks.
Ding will play Mark Selby in the final, after the world number one battled past Marco Fu 17-15 in an epic semi-final tussle. Ding began the final session of his match with McManus needing just three frames for victory after he had established a 14-10 lead on Saturday morning.
A break of 123 helped him over the winning line, completing a sensational scoring surge that had earlier included centuries of 100, 131, 100, 128, 138 and 113, while he also fired breaks of 84, 62, 90, 97, 80 and 60 as well as narrowly missing out on a maximum 147 break.
It was a truly remarkable performance from Ding, who had to qualify for the Crucible this season after slipping down the world rankings.
Looking ahead to the best-of-35 frames final, the Chinese star says he remains calm and is determined to finish the job off by winning the tournament.
“I feel peaceful at the moment, just like normal. I want to be excited but my heart tells me it’s like normal,”
said Ding. “The tournament hasn’t finished yet so I want to stay focused.” Ding admitted that it would be a dream to finally taste victory in the Crucible and, while he says there is certain to be a furore in his homeland after he reached the final, he is determined to stay focused.
“The first dream was to win any tournament, then after turning professional in 2003 I wanted to win the World Championship title,”
he added. “There’s more and more supporters in China, it’s crazy like that. I want to stay away from that and keep calm. I’ve had a lot of messages.
My phone’s almost blown up.” Ding is 1.85 to defeat Selby in the world final, while the Englishman is 13.00 to prevail 18-13.