Ronnie O'Sullivan has not seemed like a man in need of a helping hand as he pursues a fourth World Championship title but he benefited from the sportsmanship of Matthew Stevens at the Crucible in Sheffield last night.
Stevens called a costly foul on himself – one which referee Brendan Moore and O'Sullivan had apparently not spotted – in the second frame of an opening semi-final session from which he came out trailing 5-3. It was a rare moment worthy of note as Stevens and O'Sullivan produced a session to forget.
Stevens, in his first semi-final since 2005, the year that he finished runner-up to Shaun Murphy in his second final, would undoubtedly have taken a 5-3 deficit at the midway point of the session, when he trailed 4-0.
In the other semi-final, Ali Carter edged 5-3 ahead of Stephen Maguire after a disjointed opening session. The 2008 finalist fell 2-0 behind early on as both players struggled, before a 91 break saw him level at the interval.
Maguire should have won the next but missed the final black to allow Carter to steal it, then an 82 made it 3-3. After slowing the match down, Carter won two more untidy frames, with a 65 in the seventh, to take the initiative.