Ali Carter is through to his second final of the season after a hard fought 6-4 win over Joe O’Connor at the Duelbits Players Championship in Wolverhampton.
The Captain now has the chance to capture two ranking titles in a single season for the first time in his career. Carter thrashed Tom Ford 10-3 in the final of the German Masters last month to pick up silverware for the first time since 2016.
That title had put him in position to claim the £150,000 BetVictor Series Bonus, but Robert Milkins’ shock win at last week’s Welsh Open denied Carter that payout. The five-time ranking event winner now faces either Shaun Murphy or Kyren Wilson in Sunday’s final over the best of 19 frames for a top prize of £125,000.
Defeat ends another brilliant run for O’Connor, who has enjoyed the best season of his career so far. He made the final of the Scottish Open in December, where he was runner-up to Gary Wilson. The 27-year-old departs with £30,000 for making the last four and is in line to move into a career high 31st in the world rankings.
O’Connor took the first with a run of 68, before Essex’s Carter won the next two to move 2-1 up. O’Connor replied with a fine break of 79 to restore parity at 2-2 heading into the interval.
When play resumed breaks of 54 and 86 from Leicester’s O’Connor saw him establish a 4-2 advantage.
Carter had to dig deep and he did just that by claiming a 40-minute seventh frame to reduce his arrears. He then made a superb 70 break, with the balls in difficult positions, in the eighth. Despite that, O’Connor still had the chance to force a respot. He missed the final pink and Carter stepped up and deposited it to draw level at 4-4.
From that point on Carter didn’t look back, after taking the ninth he fired in 79 to get over the line and secure a 6-4 win.
“Things looked like they were going to go awry. I missed a pink at 2-2 and the game didn’t forgive me. I was 4-2 down, I couldn’t do anything right and when Joe missed he wasn’t leaving me anything. It was all going wrong, but I managed to dig in and play some of my best stuff and the end so I’m proud,” said 43-year-old Carter.
“To keep my cool is absolutely massive and that is what won me the match at the end of the day. I stayed patient, kept my belief and kept calm. It allowed me to perform when I got the chance. Before my head would have come off in a match like that.
“It is all about winning. I’m in another final which is great, but I want to be a tournament winner. I don’t want to be a finalist. This is a massive tournament and it would arguably be the biggest event I’ve won. I have a day off to chill and recuperate, happy days.”