Iran’s Hossein Vafaei came back from the brink at 4-1 down to defeat China’s Zhang Anda 5-4 and reach the semi-finals of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
Vafaei is now through to the fifth ranking semi-final of his career, where he will face 2019 World Champion Judd Trump. This is the second time Vafaei has reached a semi-final in this particular event, the first came in 2019 when he was defeated 6-0 by Neil Robertson.
He will be hoping to fare better this time around against Trump, having arrived at the ICC Wales this week with a whole new mindset. Vafaei made history last month by becoming the first Iranian to win a ranking title at the BetVictor Shoot Out, he is now just two wins away from doubling his silverware tally.
Following his success at the Shoot Out, Vafaei is currently in 8th position in the live BetVictor European Series Standings. The player who collects the most prize money over the eight qualifying events scoops a bumper £150,000 bonus. If he were to win the title this week he would go to pole position with only the BetVictor Gibraltar Open to go.
This evening’s encounter had appeared to be going the way of Zhang, when breaks of 108 and 67 helped him to establish a 4-1 advantage. However, from that point Vafaei wrested the momentum and turned the match on its head. Breaks of 68, 55, 63 and 96 saw him surge to four consecutive frames and emerge the 5-4 victor.
“It was unbelievable. This is one of the tastiest comebacks I’ve ever had in my life,” said 27-year-old Vafaei.
“If you say to any player about being 4-1 down, they will know how hard it is to win from there. As soon as I started this tournament I wasn’t showing good performances at all. Whatever happens, I accept it as a challenge. I am trying to enjoy it.
“Winning the Shoot Out gave me so much belief. I actually did it and the hard work paid off. That is why I can believe. I am the kind of player that can win five or six frames in a row as soon as I get into rhythm. The Shoot Out showed me that I can do it.”
Joe Perry is through to his first semi-final since 2019, after scoring a comprehensive 5-2 win over Ricky Walden.
The Gentleman had been enduring one of his worst seasons in recent memory prior to a recent revival in his form. His first appearance in the last 32 of a ranking event this season only came last week at the BetVictor European Masters.
Perry has negotiated a difficult draw in this event, beating David Gilbert, Cao Yupeng, Mark Allen and Kyren Wilson on his way to the quarters.
Walden came into this evening’s encounter full of confidence after scoring an impressive 4-3 defeat of six-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan yesterday evening. However, it was former Players Champion Perry who dominated proceedings.
The Cambridge cueman composed breaks of 51 and 118 on his way to victory and will now face Jack Lisowski in the last four.
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