Both players were out of sorts for the majority of the match, but a couple of half-century breaks eventually got The Rocket into the last four where he will meet Zhang Anda.
There’s always some extra needle when O’Sullivan and Carter square off, and while the snooker didn’t reach the heights expected, it was an encounter that offered up plenty of drama.
Carter took a scrappy opener before O’Sullivan hit back with breaks of 77 and 59 to lead 2-1. A stunning long red in the fourth then looked likely to make it 3-1 to The Rocket, but a missed red on 60 allowed Carter in to pinch it and draw level.
It was role reversal in the first frame after the interval as Carter looked odds-on to move clear, but a miss on 52 left the door ajar for O’Sullivan to make a trademark clearance to restore his lead.
A scrappy sixth was evenly poised until a costly error when attempting a safety shot gave O’Sullivan the simplest of chances and he made no mistake to open up a 4-2 advantage.
Both players wasted a handful of chances in the next, but it was Carter who eventually took it to halve his deficit after O’Sullivan missed the yellow along the top cushion.
The Captain could count himself unlucky in the eighth when an attempted split of the pack off the black knocked a red into the middle, but he would draw level at the end of another scruffy frame, setting up a tense finale.
Into frame nine and the building frustration came to a head for O’Sullivan, who let a great opportunity slip with some more uncharacteristic positional play. That seemed to snap him back into life, however, as he nailed a stunning opening red on his next visit en route to a brilliant 50 break that got him within one of victory.
Carter grabbed the early initiative in the 10th as he looked to set up a final-frame decider, but as was the general theme of the match, he quickly lost position.
The next chance fell the way of the seven-time world champion and a break of 64 was eventually good enough for him to stumble over the line after Carter failed to get the three snookers required.
Amazingly, O’Sullivan is now into his first ranking event semi-final since the 2022 World Championship.
The Rocket will take on Anda for a place in the final, after he won the final three frames to beat Ding Junhui 6-3.
Earlier in the day Jordan Brown beat Stephen Maguire, who ended Judd Trump’s winning streak, in a final-frame decider to book his spot in the last four.
The Englishman will face his compatriot Tom Ford in the semis after he scrapped to a 6-4 victory over former world champion Stuart Bingham.
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