SHEFFIELD (England) • Ding Junhui raced to a 6-2 lead over Alan McManus as the Chinese star hit four centuries in the first session of the World Snooker Championship semi-finals on Thursday.
Ding is bidding to become the first Asian to win the sport's showpiece event, after having to qualify for the tournament following his recent slide out of the world's top 16.
The 29-year-old has been in brilliant form at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre, eliminating Martin Gould and Judd Trump in the first two rounds before winning his quarter-final against Mark Williams 13-3 with a session to spare.
Ding began his bid to reach the final in the same blistering form, with breaks of 100, 84 and 131 taking him into a 3-0 lead against the shell-shocked McManus, who at 45 is the oldest man to reach a Crucible semi-final since Ray Reardon in 1985.
Ding added the fourth and made another 100 break to go 5-0 up before McManus finally got on the board in frame six.
A precise long red helped the Scot take the next as well but Ding rattled in a 128 in the last frame of the session for a 6-2 advantage.
The final could yet be an all-Asian affair, with Hong Kong's world No. 14 Marco Fu playing Mark Selby in the other semi-final.
At the end of their opening session, world No. 1 and 2014 world champion Selby was 5-3 ahead.
Selby raced to a 3-0 lead with half-century breaks in frames two and three. But Fu hit back with a 72, and the pair shared four frames after the mid-session interval.