Judd Trump eased through to the World Championship semi-finals with a comfortable 13-6 win over Stephen Maguire at the Crucible.
Englishman Trump was in total control, building up a lead of 7-1 in the first session, which was extended to 9-1.
Though Scotland’s Maguire briefly rallied in the final session, Trump progressed with an 82 break.
Qualifier Gary Wilson and 16th seed David Gilbert both reached the semi-finals in Sheffield for the first time.
Wilson came from behind to defeat Ali Carter 13-9, while Gilbert dispatched Kyren Wilson 13-8.
Carter led Gary Wilson 3-0, but hit back by taking five in a row and maintained his two-frame advantage at 9-7 after the second session.
The next four frames were shared, but Wilson coolly took the two he needed to secure victory.
Gilbert was 10-6 in front and, although Kyren Wilson threatened a comeback, he was not to be denied.
In the clash of the former champions, four-time winner John Higgins reached his 10th semi-final by battling past 2010 winner Neil Robertson.
The match was tied at 4-4 before Higgins went ahead 9-7, a lead he did not relinquish, finishing the match off in style with a 101 clearance to set up a meeting with Gilbert.
Higgins, who hinted at retirement earlier in the season following some poor results, said: “I am playing Dave but if I was sat at home, I would want someone like him to win.
“He is a nice guy, has a lot of grace about him, but I have to play him.
“I hope he freezes a little bit. I would love to get my nose in front and stay there. It is about how he settles, he has been playing far better than me and it will be a tough game.”
Trump dismisses favourite tag
Masters champion Trump, 29, has not reached the final since 2011, when he was beaten by Higgins. Much fancied to make a run all the way this year, Trump’s route was made easier by the early exits of world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan and number two Mark Selby from his half of the draw.
The world number seven has claimed the Northern Ireland Open and World Grand Prix ranking events this season, and comes up against Wilson next.
Trump said: “I am not sure I am the favourite [to win the tournament]. I am very pleased to still be in, but the winner of Robertson and Higgins will be the favourite. They have been there and won it. I am in there battling – me and Gary will be out there to try to win it for the first time.
“It is important to get off to a good start. I cannot let someone with so much confidence get in front because it will be too difficult to pull back.”
Former taxi driver among snooker’s elite
Gary Wilson, 33, and 37-year-old Gilbert’s progression to the latter stages of snooker’s biggest tournament is a remarkable story. Neither player has ever won a ranking title and are into the semi-finals in Sheffield for the first time.
Tyneside’s Wilson, the world number 32, has had a tough run to the last four, emerging through three qualifying matches before reaching the TV stages and beating three-time champion Mark Selby in the second round.
He quit his job as a taxi driver after turning professional again in 2013, having tried for seven years to regain his tour card.
He said: “There are certain times in that period where I did not even think I would be a professional again. It was ridiculous, I was at such a low point I was desperate to get back on the tour and make a snooker my career. From that point to now is amazing, I am proud of myself.
“I remember being off the tour and struggling for money, thinking what job do I get next. I had been playing snooker since the age of eight, I put my heart and soul into it every day, missed school and nights out with my mates, where was my life going? I am so happy to be making a living out of it now.”
Beaten opponent Carter added: “Gary has to be the favourite to win it now, the way he has been playing. It was the performance of his life, an amazing performance. You have to take your hat off to him, I did not think he could play that good.”
Tamworth’s Gilbert appeared at the World Championship as the last automatic qualifier and has been beaten in the World Open and German Masters ranking event finals this season.
As recently as 2014, he had been working with his dad on a farm – driving a tractor, planting trees and picking potatoes – but a run to the last-four guarantees him £100,000 in prize money, his “biggest ever cheque”.
Asked by BBC Sport if he was picturing winning moments at The Crucible when working on the farm, Gilbert replied: “No, not when I was spending all those hours on the tractor. I am grateful for it but I absolutely did not think I would be a top-16 player in the semi-finals of the World Championship.
“Who would have thought I would end up on the one-table set-up? Certainly not me.
“These opportunities don’t come round too often for someone like me, I have to make the most of it.
Opponent Wilson said: “I think Dave has to improve to win it. If he can find his timing and technique then why not?”