Mark Allen 'digs deep' to reach his first World Championship semi-final in 14 years
MARK Allen admitted he had to "battle" to make it through to his first World Championship semi-final in 14 years, beating qualifier Jak Jones 13-10 at the Crucible.
Allen lost his previous World Championship semi-final to John Higgins and will face either the Scot or Mark Selby in the last four.
The Antrim cueman was made to work hard for his victory over Jones with the players level at 4-4 after the first session, and 8-8 following the second session.
But Allen - having the season of his life with three ranking successes so far - pulled away in the latter stages as he stepped up his bid to win a first ever World Championship and become only the third Irishman to land the title after Belfast's Alex Higgins, in 1972 and 1982, and Coalisland's Dennis Taylor who triumphed in the famous 1985 'black ball' final against Steve Davis.
Allen finally got over the line following a lengthy safety battle.
"It was never in doubt was it?" a relieved Allen joked.
"It was a complete slog to be honest. The first session was really good but I was awful after that and it was just a matter of digging deep, trying to stay as positive as possible and trying to get 13 frames. That's what I did.
"I felt like as the match went on he was getting more edgy but I wasn't playing well enough to capitalise, so it was just a matter of staying patient and taking my chances when they came.
"It wasn't pretty, I'm sure it wasn't pretty to watch but I couldn't care less. I'm in the semis.
"I don't mean this to sound bad to Jak, but that was like a three or four out of 10 performance. That really wasn't good. But mentally I was like a 12 out of 10 and ready for anything."
Allen's clash with Higgins or Selby - both multiple World champions - is the best-of-33 frames over three days.
There was a shock exit for defending seven-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan at the hands of Belgium's Luca Brecel who came from 10-6 down to win 13-10. Brecel will play either Anthony McGill or China's Si Jiahui in the semi-finals of the £2.4m showpiece.