WRYLY campaigner Mark Williams has reached the semi-finals of the China Open in Beijing - as he bids a return to the Crucible in mid-April. Williams, 42, knocked out the Magician Shaun Murphy 5 - 1 - after a string of tactical frames in which the master tactician came through with some tremendous individual potting.

The Welsh potting machine, as he is nicknamed, will face in the last four the Iranian pro Hossein Vafaei Ayouri, who has incredibly knocked out this season's top achiever the Juddernaut Judd Trump, who yesterday tremendously made his 3rd career 147.

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He, of course, was seeking a third ranking title this season. Williams hasn't won a ranking title since 2011! Trump was looking for his third China Open title, but it is now Williams, who, like Ding is still on for a third China Open title.

China Open winners

Williams is one of five players to have won the event twice. World number one Mark Selby is seeking a second China Open title after winning it in 2015. Vafaei shouted in celebration and fist pumped the air as he saw off the Bristol potter 5 - 3 - after potting a tremendous pressure pink to seal the match. Williams is seeking a place back in the 16 - so that he wont have to qualify for the Crucible by playing three best of 19s in Ponds Forge next week when the World Championship qualifiers begin and the WC begins in earnest in Sheffield!

Vafaei is current;y 76 in the World, but should the 22-year-old win his semi-final, he will pocket a £20,000 cheque and shoot up the rankings to at least around the 66th spot. He's had visa problems but this season has seen him reach a best of a quarter-final of the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast losing to Mark King who went on to win the event.

He has made a highest break of a 147 as an amateur at the IBSF World Amateur Championship at under-21 level and was also IBSF World Champion in 2011 after beating Welshman Lee Walker in the final 10 - 9. In the other quarter-finals, Mark Selby plays Scot Stephen Maguire, also seeking a second.

China's number one Ding plays Kettering's Kyren Wilson - and they played each other in the 2015 Shanghai Masters when Wilson went onto win his first ranking title beating Judd Trump in the final, Mark Allen in the last four and Ding in the quarters.