World Snooker Championship: Chinese sensation Si Jiahui takes early semi-final lead against Luca Brecel

·17-min read

Si Jiahui edged into a two frame lead after a fascinating first session of the youngster’s World Snooker Championship semi-final against Luca Brecel.

The 20-year-old survived a final frame decider against Anthony McGill to reach the last four on debut at the Crucible, and showed few signs of nerves early in his encounter with Brecel.

The Chinese player sparkled to take four frames on the bounce after losing the opening frame of the match, and but for a missed black off the spot would have further extended his lead.

But a simple miss afforded Brecel an opportunity to get back in the match, with the two players splitting the final two frames of the session to leave Si 5-3 in front before the two players resume their best-of-33 encounter on Friday morning.

The winner of the semi-final will face either Mark Allen or Mark Selby in the World Championship final, with the two British players beginning their last-four match later on Thursday.

Follow all the live scores and results from the Crucible Theatre with our live blog, below:

World Snooker Championship – latest scores

  • Belgian ninth-seed Luca Brecel faces China’s Si Jiahui in best-of-33 semi-final

  • Mark Allen takes on Mark Selby in second semi-final later on Thursday

Si Jiahui 5-3 Luca Brecel

16:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

You’d have to say the score is about fair - Si Jiahui has certainly shown the more consistently strong snooker during the first session of the semi-final, and looked set to go 5-1 ahead before an inexplicable missed black cost him frame six. Luca Brecel converted shrewdly from there but will be annoyed to have let a chance to level things up before the interval slip.

They’ll be back tomorrow morning for more.

Si Jiahui 5-3 Luca Brecel

16:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Brecel manages to thump in the brown and blue. A long, long pink up the table to win the dice!

Si needs pink and black to snatch the frame. The pink’s over the left middle...there it is. In goes the black and a fascinating session of snooker comes to a close with our Crucible debutant two frames in front.

Si Jiahui 4-3 Luca Brecel

16:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Our first properly scrappy frame of the encounter as both players just grapple with the table for a little bit. A double kiss grants Brecel an opportunity, and a brilliant positional shot allows him to drop on the final red along the cushion into the left corner.

But the Belgian leaves himself straight on the pink and can’t get up to the yellow. He then tries to do too much with his next shot and fluffs it entirely, missing the yellow and gifting Si four points and a free ball. The youngster finds a lovely pot of the pink to the middle but he’s all over the place thereafter, running too far up the table and then playing an odd duck of a safety on the yellow. He has 49, Brecel has 46 with the colours to be cleared but neither player at all in any kind of fluency. Brecel manages to cut in for two points.

Si Jiahui 4-3 Luca Brecel

15:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Si accelerates into the 20s with the four remaining reds left clumped on the cushion. Can he open them up from the pink? Of course he can, driving in merrily with top spin to bring two into play.

But the other two remain awkward, and Si can’t drive the better positioned of them in after switching hands. His 43 gives him a nine point lead, soon to be cut to eight as Brecel lines a pot up to the middle...

Or not! That’s another sloppy shot from the Belgian.

Si Jiahui 4-3 Luca Brecel

15:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But not alive for much longer! Like Si two frames ago, it’s a missed colour off its spot that costs Brecel, the Belgian almost up and on to the next ball as he guides the pink towards the left corner. Back to his seat he trudges.

Si Jiahui 4-3 Luca Brecel

15:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Brecel cuts a long red into the right corner and starts to build again. This won’t be easy - the black only goes to one corner, the pink only to the middle, and the blue is marooned up on the yellow spot. The Belgian takes his time to plot out his options, briefly disturbed by the ringing of a spectator’s phone, but soon splitting a couple of reds by the black to better free the ball of most value.

With the score on 26, Brecel elects to go into the bunch, a tad unfortunate not to leave himself something more manageable as they disperse. But that’s a beautiful cut to the corner past the green to keep the break alive.

Si Jiahui 4-3 Luca Brecel

15:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A break of 69 makes certain of the frame. Luca Brecel is back within a single frame.

Luca Brecel has won both frames since the mid-session interval (Getty Images)
Luca Brecel has won both frames since the mid-session interval (Getty Images)

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And that’s more of a hit and hope than anything particularly considered. Brecel knocks in a simple starter.

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And that will frustrate Si - at last he hits the red, catching it nicely and getting good length on his cue ball, but leaving a red free for Brecel to extend his lead. The Belgian plays the torturer again, using the backside of the yellow to inflict more mental strain on Si, forced to again fathom a route out.

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nine fouls from Si and Brecel is ahead in the frame having potted a single red. Things just threatening to unravel for the 20-year-old here.

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A friendly smooch on the green turns a good Brecel safety into an excellent one, drawing four more points out of Si Jiahui. Brecel’s 29 plays Si’s 33 as the referee tries to get the positioning right as the Belgian asks Si to try again.

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Si’s lead is cut in half by two more misses, and the youngster then adds eight more points to the Belgian’s total without coming too much closer to the colour.

At last! At the seventh time of asking, Si strikes the brown, to a warm ovation from the Crucible crowd. Better yet, he’s not let anything on. Ignore the 24 points conceded and it has all worked out rather well.

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That lets Si in but on 33 an error comes. The 20-year-old elects to go in to the bunch with top spin as he pots a red, leaving himself almost inevitably trapped in a scarlet cloak with no obvious route to a colour. Two misses of the brown off a couple of cushions and there could be more to come.

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

You would hope that pilfer does Brecel’s game some good. A pretty long red suggests it has; a rather wayward missed blue to the left corner does not.

Si Jiahui 4-2 Luca Brecel

15:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A sigh of relief for Luca Brecel. He was starting 5-1 in the face but Si Jiahui’s error opened the front door and Brecel strode in to steal the frame.

Si Jiahui 4-1 Luca Brecel

15:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A red along the cushion, Brecel stays down to see if it drops...just about! In goes the last of them. Clear the colours and Brecel will take a much needed frame.

Si Jiahui 4-1 Luca Brecel

15:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Where did that come from? An almost unfathomable miss from Si, taking his eye off the ball for the first time in more than an hour and a half and the black going awry from its spot.

Brecel needs to convert this chance, you feel. Si slumps deep into his chair.

Si Jiahui 4-1 Luca Brecel

15:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This really has been sublime. Brecel leaves a red on and in an instant Si is cantering up through the thirties and 40s and again in position to extend his lead.

Si Jiahui 4-1 Luca Brecel

14:56 , Harry Latham-Coyle

No clearance this time, but Si finishes things off swiftly enough with little fuss.

Si Jiahui 3-1 Luca Brecel

14:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And Brecel is soon left needing snookers as he tries to pot his way out of trouble, going close with his attempt to the right corner but leaving the red hanging on the cliff edge.

It will be four frames on the bounce for Si.

Si Jiahui 3-1 Luca Brecel

14:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A break of 24 builds his lead to 60 points with a red sextet remaining. Brecel’s cue ball slams into the bottom of the blue as he tries to play safe, allowing that advantage to swell by one with a possible 67 left.

Si Jiahui 3-1 Luca Brecel

14:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The audacity of youth! Si Jiahui rifles in a stunner from the baulk cushion, the cueing awkward and the pot tricky but it mattering not as the 20-year-old starts his second contribution of the frame with 39 already on the board.

Si Jiahui 3-1 Luca Brecel

14:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The rest is re-employed for the next one-pointer, but that’s a bad miss from Brecel, jabbing at it and leaving the red in the jaws. The Belgian looks down at the table slightly perplexed at a reasonably basic error.

Si Jiahui 3-1 Luca Brecel

14:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Well spotted Luca. Si comes off a couple of cushions slightly pacier than he’d have liked, meaning the cue ball does not quite embed in the pack. Brecel is initially content to play safe back up to baulk, but spies a red above the black that will cut to the corner. A hasty retrieval of the rest and in it staggers.

Si Jiahui 3-1 Luca Brecel

14:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Rather contrasting mid-session intervals for the two players, you’d guess. Si Jiahui would have loved to just keep rolling on, the Crucible debutant looking so calm and composed in thrice clearing the table to take those last three frames before the break. Luca Brecel, conversely, was probably rather glad to get back to the dressing room, clear his head and try to reset. He’ll back his game to come good but just needs to steady himself.

Si Jiahui 3-1 Luca Brecel

14:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“Phenomenal snooker,” purrs Stephen Hendry - a third clearance in a row allows Si to extend his lead.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Si Jiahui 2-1 Luca Brecel

14:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

These last three frames have been wonderful to watch from Si. For a third time in quick succession Brecel gives him a faint sniff and Si shows his skill, 97% his potting success as he again embarks on a delicious, frame-winning break.

Si Jiahui 2-1 Luca Brecel

14:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The two trade tough misses, Si first bothered by an unwelcome yellow and unable to find the right degree of cut to the left middle, before a Brecel double has the crowd clapping but the red refuses to drop.

Si Jiahui 2-1 Luca Brecel

14:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Luca Brecel can have a habit of just trying too hard to force things. I thought he looked nice and relaxed when cultivating that comeback against Ronnie O’Sullivan yesterday, making sure to play the balls as they came and not necessarily go chasing for pots. For the third time already he makes a hash of a pot that should really have gone in trying to do something slightly ambitious positionally.

Can Si capitalise? Nope, a red cut too thinly bounces off a middle mandible.

Si Jiahui 2-1 Luca Brecel

14:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Back to back centuries for Si Jiahui. Again the Chinese starlet clears up. Fabulous snooker.

Si Jiahui 1-1 Luca Brecel

14:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Si contorts his hand around the middle pocket, spreading the digits to ensure he can cue freely through to the penultimate red. In it goes with a rattle, and the last ballon rouge is frame ball, knocked in with a nifty switch of hand.

Si Jiahui 1-1 Luca Brecel

13:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Luca Brecel would rather like that pot back, the yellow simple enough for a player of his quality but vibrating in the jaws and popping free with the lead only 33. The balls are spread nicely enough for Si to move ahead in the frame with four one-pointers left on the table.

Si Jiahui 1-1 Luca Brecel

13:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s not how Si would have liked to have started after that clearance, though, leaving Brecel an opening red with a careless first shot of the frame. The Belgian squanders his first opportunity to build a break but is back amongst the balls soon enough.

Si Jiahui 1-1 Luca Brecel

13:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s Si Jiahui’s highest break of the tournament, and a real marker laid down to Luca Brecel. John Parrott makes the point on the BBC that there has been virtually nothing from Si on the tour this season to suggest performances like these were coming - a quarter final at the European Masters last August is the 20-year-old’s only result of note.

Si Jiahui 1-1 Luca Brecel

13:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Si starts to almost strut around the table as he knocks in the reds, bringing up the first century of the match with the yellow. In go the rest of them for a simply outstanding clearance of 125 to level the match.

Si Jiahui 0-1 Luca Brecel

13:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s a lovely sound every time Si strikes the cue ball, the youngster so precise and powerful. He’s not perfect positionally as he builds his break but the balls continue to find the heart of the pocket as he works up into the 30s for the break and 40s for the frame.

Si Jiahui 0-1 Luca Brecel

13:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Blimey - that’s bold and brilliant from Si Jiahui, who really does have some potting talent. The first red of the second frame is hastily hurried home from distance and a rather acute angle.

The black follows in similarly fine fashion, but there’s little on as Si’s cue ball runs into the bunch. Eight points for now.

Luca Brecel reveals he got ‘drunk as hell’ before beating Ronnie O’Sullivan at World Snooker Championship

13:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Luca Brecel knocked out the reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan from the World Snooker Championship and then revealed he got “drunk as hell” ahead of their quarter-final.

The 28-year-old Belgian has built a reputation as a mercurial talent with the ability to succeed at the highest level but not always the application to go with it. Yet he produced arguably the performance of his career at the Crucible Theatre on Wednesday, rattling off seven frames in a row to knock out the favourite O’Sullivan, who had been chasing an unprecedented eighth world title in the modern era.

Afterwards, Brecel revealed his unorthodox preparation away from the table. “Before the tournament I was out partying, staying up late to 6 or 7am, playing Fifa with my friends, not practising,” Brecel told BBC Sport. “Even after I beat Mark Williams [in the second round] I got home at 7am by car, and then we went out again until 5 or 6 in the morning, drunk as hell. The next day, I had to drive back up again, so it’s a totally different preparation, and it’s working.”

Luca Brecel reveals he got ‘drunk as hell’ before beating Ronnie O’Sullivan

Si Jiahui 0-1 Luca Brecel

13:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A contribution of 22 is sufficient - as at the Etihad last night, a Belgian makes it 1-0.

Si Jiahui 0-0 Luca Brecel

13:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A moment of carelessness and, perhaps, inexperience from Si, manipulating the angles nicely to get on the black but then finding his angle through to the next red blocked when the referee places the potted ball on the pink spot. To compound the error, Si plays a loose safety, allowing Brecel another long starter and a second chance at taking a 1-0 lead.

Si Jiahui 0-0 Luca Brecel

13:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The black is off its spot so it is with the pink that Brecel does the bulk of his work. He notches a half cetury but then forces a blue, trying to open up that quartet by the cushion and losing focus on the pot. A rueful twist of the head and back to his seat he plods with a chance to take the frame very much wasted.

Si Jiahui 0-0 Luca Brecel

13:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An error from Si - he doesn’t fancy a tough pot to the right corner, so instead tries to get back up to baulk off the red. He can’t find a gap, though, and Brecel dispatches the cue ball on a long journey to meet a red hovering over the corner pocket to get his score moving.

A fluked pink allows him to continue, the ball jamming in and out of the pocket past the green but rebounding in a friendly manner for the Belgian. You need a bit of luck...

Si Jiahui 0-0 Luca Brecel

13:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Si looks in lovely touch in this opening frame, weighting his safeties perfectly to keep Brecel on the back foot. The reds are spread with a leftward skew, a group of four over by the cushion between the pink and black spots and two further down by the pocket. Brecel answers Si’s safety nicely.

Si Jiahui 0-0 Luca Brecel

13:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Brecel hits the red on the cushion at the second time of asking, but can’t help but leave it on to the right corner. Si gives it an obliging nudge home and knocks in the blue, but the break runs aground with an unwanted tap on the green. Back into safety play with Si 11 to the good.

Si Jiahui 0-0 Luca Brecel

13:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There will be plenty of tension in the limbs of both players, knowing what is at stake. Brecel does have much more experience than his opponent, with two ranking titles won over the last couple of years, but this is an occasion that will test the mettle of two men who had never before been beyond the first round at the World Championship.

But how about that for a starting red! Si rattles one in to the left corner to get the scoring started, and then immediately draws a foul from Brecel with an intelligent snooker in baulk.

Si Jiahui vs Luca Brecel

13:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A very good afternoon, and welcome to semi-final Thursday at the World Snooker Championship. The Crucible has been transformed overnight, one table removed from the arena as we move to a single table set-up.

Our first semi-final sees two rising stars meet in the biggest match of their careers so far, 20-year-old Chinese starlet Si Jiahui taking on Luca Brecel, Ronnie O’Sullivan’s conqueror yesterday.

The two players are out by the baize - we are up and running in Sheffield...

World Snooker Championship

13:07 , Lawrence Ostlere

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