Bengaluru, Nov 28: Pakistan's Muhammad Sajjad, until now unsung and unheralded, dished out a master class to outplay a precocious Zhao Xintong of China 7-3, aided by two superb century breaks, en route to the men's final in the Seaways-IBSF World Snooker Championship here Friday.
In the best-of-15 frames final Saturday, Sajjad, who beat India's Manan Chandra 6-1 in the previous round, takes on another Chinese, 14-year old Yan Bingtao who won a battle of attrition 7-5 against Thailand's Kritsnut Lertsattayathom in a match that lasted four hours.
Bingtao, who had beaten Indian hope Pankaj Advani 6-4 in the quarter-finals earlier in the day, was stretched to breakpoint by Lertsattayathom in a marathon semi-final that lasted four hours and saw just two half-century breaks - 54 by the Chinese and 62 by the Thai.
The women's final will be between defending champion Wendy Jans of Belgium who routed Ng On Yee (Hong Kong) 4-1 and Russia's Anastasia Nachaeva who wore down compatriot Daria 4-2.
Sajjad, the 28-year old school dropout from Sargodha, and employed with National Bank of Pakistan, played a near-flawless game to outclass the left-handed Chinese teenager, runner-up in the 2013 championship, in a manner that won him a legion of admirers.
Sajjad thus avenged his semi-final defeat last year in his inimitable style marked by super-smooth cueing, delightful touch with which he persuaded the balls to do his bidding and cue-ball control that helped him develop frame-winning breaks with effortless ease.
The turning point was the third frame when Zhao yielded to his youthful impetuosity to slam a green that he missed in the top pocket, but broke the bunch in the process. Sajjad seized the opening and with reds spread favourably, put together a magnificent run of 120 that launched his assault and another break of 106 in the ninth effectively killed Zhao's challenge.
"In the last championship, I lost to Xintong after leading 5-3. So, I was keen to score in every visit to the table, and once I got into the rhythm, everything fell in place. It does not matter who I will play in the final tomorrow, but I want to win this title for Pakistan," said Sajjad.
Earlier, the quarter-final rounds saw the exit of Advani and Manan Chandra in the men's, a listless Chitra Magimairajan in the women's and veterans BV Srinivasa Murthy and Rafath Habib in the Masters sections.
The results (Indians unless mentioned)
MEN - Semi-finals (Best-of-13): Muhammad Sajjad (PAK) bt Zhao Xintong (CHN) 7-3 (13-74 (69), 70 (62)-08, 53-64, 67-18, 103 (67)-00, 98 (98)-01, 124 (120)-14; 09-105 (91), 103 (103)-29, 53-11). Yan Bingtao (CHN) bt Kritsnut Lertsattayathom (THA) 7-5 (72-27, 51-62, 12-122 (62), 35-57,68-14, 59-02, 115-24, 32-70, 54-52, 18-67, 82 (54), 73-05). Quarter-finals (Best-of-11): Sajjad (PAK) bt Manan Chandra 6-1; Xintong (CHN) bt Adrian Ridley (AUS) 6-4; Bingtao (CHN) bt Pankaj Advani 6-4; Lertsattayathom (THA) bt Amir Sarkhosh (IRN) 6-3.
WOMEN - Semi-finals (Best-of-7): Wendy Jans (BEL) bt Ng On Yee (HK) 4-1; Anastasia Nechaeva (RUS) bt Daria Sirotina (RUS) 4-2. Quarter-finals: Jans (BEL) bt Chitra Magimairajan 4-1; Yee (HK) bt Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan (THA) 4-0; Sirotina (RUS) bt Siraphat Chitchomnart (THA) 4-0; Nachaeva (RUS) bt Wan (HK) 4-0.
MASTERS - Semi-finals (Best-of-9): Phisit Chandsri (THA) bt Craig MacGillvray 5-2; Darren Morgan (WAL) bt Chuchart Trirattanapradit (THA) 5-3. Quarter-finals (Best-of-7): Morgan (WAL) bt BV Srinivasa Murthy 4-0; Chandsri (THA) bt Choon Kiat Tey (SIN) 4-0; MacGillvray (SCO) bt Noel Rodrigues Moreira (BRA) 4-3; Trirattanapradit (THA) bt Rafat Habib 4-3.