There are two days left of the Scottish Open and on Saturday we will find out which two men will compete for a place in the final when the two semi-finals of the last event of 2023 take place inside the Meadowbank Sports Centre in Edinburgh.
Four players start out the day with the same ambition, to get to six frames and book their place for a shot at the Stephen Hendry Trophy on Sunday. It could be a big day for most of the players on show as they look to get themselves into the top 16 in the rankings.
Gary Wilson vs Zhou Yuelong
The semi-final in the top half of the draw sees the defending champion Gary Wilson looking to make it back to the final of the competition when he goes up against the Chinese ace Zhou Yuelong, who himself wants to be back in a Home Nations title decider.
Zhou has previously been to the final of the Northern Ireland Open and will hope to be competing in the last game of this tournament. He has played pretty well this week but I always have the concern over him getting over the line in the really big matches, especially when he is a favourite or in a match he has a chance of winning such as this. Earlier in the week Wilson looked a bit of an abomination but he has come through his last two matches for the loss of just one frame and scoring really well which bodes well for him. He has played most of his games on the main table so he will be comfortable in the surroundings and should fancy his chances of coming out on top. These two met in the semi-final of the European Masters in 2020 and it went to the deciding frame. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is as close as that given the opportunity in front of them both. I think over 9.5 frames is a runner here between two men who look to be playing pretty well heading into this semi-final.
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Noppon Saengkham vs John Higgins
The evening semi-final will see the home crowd captivated as their hero John Higgins looks to make it through to a third final of this competition. He takes on a man who has given him one or two problems in the past in the form of Noppon Saengkham.
The Thai began the week a little slowly but he has kicked on the longer it has gone on and he’ll be able to play with a little bit of freedom here because there won’t be too many in Edinburgh who will be expecting him to win. The Thai has never made a ranking event final though so this has the potential to be a big night for him. Reaching major finals is water off a ducks back to Higgins so you would imagine he’ll be the more comfortable of the two in this semi-final but you have to go back 21 months for the last time he made a ranking final. That might get into his head, especially if he leads as he has been known to chuck some leads away recently. I expect Higgins to win and if Saengkham doesn’t settle early the Scot could have an early night but I’m not sold enough on it to get involved.
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