Truly, a star in the making! Bursting into the elite in recent years, the 17-year-old Zhao Ruliang never ceases to amaze! The world number 6 showed plenty of grit this afternoon to beat Zhang Kunpeng 17-16 in a hill-hill thriller.
Trailing 4-7, Zhao managed to tie things up at 7-7. At the 8th rack, Zhao made his 3rd illegal break as Zhang gifted it to make a lead 8-7.
Zhang took the next 3 racks in a row and Zhao took the next several racks to fight back 13-13.
At the 27th rack, Zhao made his 6th illegal break, which contributed another point to Zhang. Zhao and Zhang shared next racks to tie the match again 16-16 from 14-14.
Zhao broke the 33rd rack and pocketed the 6 ball. Then he made an error but Zhang did not seize the opportunity. Finally Zhao was the deserved winner to reach the final.
Better yet, this will be Zhao's first-ever Masters Final. There would be no better stage than Xiushui on which to truly announce himself.
Zhao will await the winner of the second semi-final which will see the dominating Zheng Yubo play an on-form world number five Wan Tongle.