David Grace races into semi-finals of Northern Ireland Open

DAVID GRACE stunned world No 13 Yan Bingtao as a brilliant performance booked his place in just the second ranking event semi-final of his career at the Northern Ireland Open.
Leeds snooker player David Grace. Picture:  Simon HulmeLeeds snooker player David Grace. Picture:  Simon Hulme
Leeds snooker player David Grace. Picture: Simon Hulme

The Leeds player continued his imperious run of form as three half-century breaks, followed by a final frame 104, sealed a 5-2 win and teed up a last four clash against world No.1 Judd Trump in Milton Keynes.

World No.67 Grace had beaten David Gilbert, Sam Craigie, Michael White and Michael Holt to advance the quarter-finals and delivered another thrilling display under the Marshall Arena lights.

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Grace, 35, fought back from 3-0 behind to beat Holt and carried on from where he left off as a first frame break of 67 gave him the advantage over Chinese sensation Yan.

But the 2019 Riga Masters winner levelled the scores as visits of 53 and 57 dashed the Yorkshire player’s advances.

Grace, whose last run to the semi-finals of a major event came at the 2015 UK Championship, then pinched a scrappier third before Yan restored parity once more with a majestic 103.

The mid-session interval came at a good time for Grace and he regained his advantage in the fifth thanks to a rock-solid 70.

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A sixth frame 59 put him on the cusp of a second ever semi-final and he wrapped up the job in style as a mesmerising century kept his Home Nations hopes alive.

Grace will now meet 2019 world champion Trump in the semi-finals on Saturday, who struck a maximum 147 break in his second round match and eased past world No.25 Scott Donaldson 5-1 in the last eight.

The Leeds player reached the quarter-finals of last year’s Gibraltar Open and has enjoyed a promising start to the 2020-21 season, reaching the second and third rounds of the European Masters and English Open respectively.

And he’ll be hoping to continue that form into the weekend as he bids to inflict a major scalp on Trump, who is attempting to become the first player to win the same ranking event for three years running since Stephen Hendry in 1996.

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*Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport app, and stream on discovery+

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