World Championship: Si Jiahui hoping he has to change his travel plans once again
The 20-year-old’s fairytale run from the qualifiers could extend to Sunday’s final if he can convert his 14-10 overnight lead in his best-of-33 semi-final against Belgium’s Luca Brecel. Both players produced stunning attacking snooker, but it is Si who needs three more frames for victory when they resume in Saturday afternoon’s final session.
Si’s original ticket for his end-of-season trip back to China – he lives and trains in Sheffield but comes from Zhu Ji in the Zhejiang province – was booked for earlier this month as the rookie did not think he would progress through three tough qualifying rounds at the English Institute of Sport after a disappointing season.
But after reaching the Crucible, Si rebooked his flight thinking he would not get beyond his first-round meeting with 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy, never mind subsequent wins over Robert Milkins and Anthony McGill in this 17-day marathon of snooker.
A new flight was booked for Sunday, but Si will be hoping he has to make a fourth change to his itinerary as the world No 80 – who was playing as amateur last season after falling off the main Tour – seeks to become the youngest ever world champion and complete a remarkable, if unlikely, journey.
A real rags-to-riches Rocky story – reminiscent to Emma Raducanu’s shock US Open tennis triumph – which would see Victoria’s Academy in Sheffield produce another Triple Crown winner, following in the footsteps of fellow Chinese potters Yan Bingtao (Masters) and Zhao Xintong (UK).
As well as re-arranging his flight three times, Si has also had to book three Covid tests which are required for travel to China.
Si, who lives in a flat in Sheffield, had not seen his family in three years during the Covid Pandemic, before returning to China in February.
There was a chance Si could have wrapped up victory inside three sessions, leading 14-5, but Brecel – who came from 10-6 down to win seven successive frames to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals – battled back to win the final five frames.
Like he has done all tournament, Si impressed again as breaks of 90, 132 and 97 saw him sail into a 14-5 lead. But Brecel rallied with breaks of 108, 60 and 66 to take the match into the final session.