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banner Saturday, 10 February, 2001, 05:33 GMT
Four become two on semi Saturday
Paul Hunter
Paul Hunter will be looking to make it fourth time lucky when he plays Stephen Hendry for a place in the Benson & Hedges Masters final.

The 22-year-old Yorkshireman appears in his first Wembley semi-final and finds the five-times B&H champion blocking his path.

Hendry has won all three previous meetings and Hunter must overcome this psychological barrier if he's to progress any further.

"Paul has looked very solid this season," said Hendry - the hot favourite to win the 175,000 first prize.

"He has played some outstanding stuff and has got all the talent in the world.

"He is definitely going to win titles in the future but just how many depends on him.

"I'll certainly need to be at my best to beat him."

Hunter has knocked out Matthew Stevens, the defending champion, and Peter Ebdon to reach the last four for the first time.

Hendry has seen off teenage newcomer Shaun Murphy and Jimmy White - both games ending 6-4 - to avoid the culling of the top names.

Five Wembley winners have already gone out and Hendry said: "You get these tournaments from time to time when the top seeds go out.

"I just hope it's not going to happen to me next," added the 32-year-old Scotsman.

Unless Hendry wins the title there will be a new name engraved on the gold trophy.

The second semi-final features two last-four newcomers, Dave Harold and Dubliner Fergal O'Brien.

Harold is still euphoric after a remarkable quarter-final victory over John Parrott.

The Englishman came from 5-1 down to beat the triple Masters runner-up 6-5 on a re-spotted black.

O'Brien is also on a high after getting the better of world champion and world number one Mark Williams in round two and before accounting for fellow Dublin Ken Doherty in the quarter-finals.

"There's not a world of difference between us," said O'Brien ahead of his semi-final.

"Dave and I are both very hard match players. It's another tough game but that's what you expect at this level."

Harold is guaranteed the biggest career pay cheque of his career - 45,000 - and is confident of accumulating more cash.

"I have come this far and there's no reason why I can't go any further," said the 34-year-old Potteries professional.


Semi-finals - Order of play

Best of 11 frames:

  • 1300 GMT; P Hunter (Eng) v S Hendry (Sco),
  • 1900 GMT; D Harold (Eng) v F O'Brien (Ire)

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    See also:

    09 Feb 01 |  Benson and Hedges Masters
    Harold comeback stuns Parrott
    09 Feb 01 |  Benson and Hedges Masters
    Hendry through to semis
    08 Feb 01 |  Benson and Hedges Masters
    Hunter wins tough struggle
    09 Feb 01 |  Benson and Hedges Masters
    O'Brien wins old pals act
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