China Open: Stephen strolls into the semis and steals a World Championship spot

Stephen Maguire is the lowest ranked player in Saturday's semi-finals.

China Open: Stephen strolls into the semis and steals a World Championship spot
Victory for Maguire allows him a more favourable route at The Crucible (photo: Getty Images)

Stephen Maguire cruised past Alfie Burden to enter the top 16 of the world rankings and qualify automatically for the World Championships that begin in two weeks time. The result leaves Ding Junhui with three qualifying matches just to make the first round in Sheffield.

Scotland against England in Beijing 

Maguire was in fine form as he saw off one of the tournament's surprise packages in Burden. Two tight opening frames were shared between the players before Maguire ran away with the match, putting together three breaks of more than 60. His break of 88 in the fourth frame was the Scotsman's highlight of the match.

The new world number 16 faces Judd Trump - ranked nine places above him. Trump had a much tougher encounter with Mark King as he found himself locked in a tight encounter. As with Maguire's game, the pair traded opening blows, with Trump shooting a 93 in the second frame. The two Englishmen could not be separated after six frames, before Trump eventually composed himself to take the next two frames and run out victorious at 5-3.

Walden waltzes past Bingham

In the only slight surprise of the round, Ricky Walden defeated world number two Stuart Bingham 5-1. Walden had suffered for consistent form during the tournament but it all came together for the world number ten as he seeks to win his third competition in China. Walden put together four breaks between 55 and 79 and the result never looked in doubt as he went one step closer to reaching his second consecutive tournament final.

Walden's semi-final opponent is the only man left who has won a major ranking tournament this season, John Higgins. The experienced campaigner raced into a 4-0 lead against world number 102 Noppon Saengkham as he endeavoured to end the Thai's excellent run of form in the competition. Yet Saengkham hit back with three frames of his own to force a nervy finale, before Higgins settled himself to win the eighth frame as he looks to add to his Australian Open title from the summer.