An emotional Ding Junhui broke down in tears on the shoulder of opponent, friend and idol Ronnie O'Sullivan as he compiled a mesmerising 13-10 victory to reach the 2017 World Championship semi-finals.
Ding defeats O'Sullivan for the first time in a decade
Ding went into the final session as the favourite after establishing a 10-6 overnight advantage. Yet if anyone was able to turn the contest around it was five-time World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan who has shown splurges of great form over the past week and a half.
The Rocket immediately set about his business as he won the opening two frames, producing a break of 97 in frame 18. Ding responded with 69 to take a step closer to victory, only for O'Sullivan to formulate a quite remarkable compilation. The enigma grinned his way to an astonishing tournament-high 146 break to put the man from China on the ropes at the mid-session interval.
Ding returned admirably to make an 87 break and continue his quest for the final four. He looked set to confirm that place in frame 22 only for his break of 63 to fall two balls short of winning the frame. O'Sullivan took full advantage as he cleared up with 73 to give himself hope of a miraculous revival. Yet Ding held firm with an excellent 117 to wrap up a 13-10 win and establish his ninth century break of the tournament, describing the victory as "the greatest win of my career".
The Hawks soars at the Crucible
World number seven Barry Hawkins earned the last semi-final position as he saw off a Stephen Maguire revival to eliminate the last qualifier standing. Maguire won the opening two frames, setting himself on his way with a fantastic break of 135 in the opener.
Yet Hawkins responded admirably with a top quality contribution of 126 himself. It was to be the first of four straight frames to see him through to the semi-finals against John Higgins, culminating in a contribution of 77 to secure a 13-9 win.