Mark Selby battled past Stuart Bingham 17-15 to reach the World Snooker Championship final but was accused of gamesmanship by his opponent after their marathon match.
In the other semi-final Shaun Murphy shrugged off criticism of his “theatrical” celebrations and vowed to entertain his way to a second Crucible crown after sweeping aside Kyren Wilson 17-12.
Selby had been warned for slow play on Friday, then was forced to complete his win in an unprecedented period of overtime. With Selby up 16-15 as the afternoon session ticked beyond six o’clock, the pair were hauled off to make way for the return of Murphy and Wilson – the first time in the tournament’s history that a semi-final has been interrupted.
Bingham, the 2015 champion, who had to qualify for this year’s event, said: “It was gruelling. It’s tough to lose a close game like that. Funnily enough, it’s the same sort of player, time in, time out, who plays slow. Does he do it on purpose or what?
“I want a free-flowing game. Everyone knows there was one shot which took three minutes. It’s close to gamesmanship. I thought he had more respect but to celebrate before game ball, well I lost a bit of respect. I wouldn’t do that. I don’t expect anyone else to do it. It has put a sour taste in the mouth.”
The gruelling progress did not bother Selby, who said: “I’m just out there to do a job and as long as I get to that magic number I couldn’t care less how I play. If I need to get to 17 first I’d be out there for five days if I needed to, it wouldn’t bother me one bit. Obviously you want to go out there and play well, and if you play well you are entertaining the crowd anyway.”
Murphy won five frames in a row in the concluding session to turn what was at one stage a 10-4 deficit into a dominant 17-12 victory over Wilson, last year’s runner-up.
Murphy’s frequent fist-pumps did not go down well with Wilson, who accused his opponent of being “a bit over-the-top and theatrical”, but Murphy retorted: “We are in a theatre and we are putting on a show. We are in the entertainment business. Everybody’s been locked up and isolated for the past year and they want to see a show, and it’s our job to put on a show and entertain them.
“There is more to winning major snooker events in front of live audiences than just hitting the cue ball in a straight line. There’s a lot more that goes into it than on-the-table theatrics, and maybe that’s a stone Kyren hasn’t looked under yet.”
Murphy, playing some of his best snooker at the venue since he sailed to the title as an unfancied qualifier in 2005, had won the final three frames of the morning session to level at 12-12. He returned with a session of near-faultless snooker, seizing on a series of errors from last year’s losing finalist to reel off five consecutive half-centuries and win the match.