Thepchaiya Un-Nooh battled back from 5-2 and 6-4 behind to edge out Hossein Vafaei 7-6 in reaching the Six Red World Championship final in Bangkok.
The popular Thai speed merchant had to display fortitude as much as flair in a thrilling semi-final that saw Vafaei miss a tricky pink to the green pocket in the penultimate frame that would have sealed a 7-5 victory.
He lifted the title in 2015 with an 8-2 filleting of Liang Wenbo before suffering a similar defeat by the same scoreline to Mark Williams in 2017.
Un-Nooh – who top scored with breaks of 50 and 59 – will have a vociferous crowd behind him when he meets Ding Junhui or Tom Ford over the best of 15 frames on Saturday (8am GMT) at the Thammasat University Convention Centre in Pathum Thani.
He will fancy his chances of joining Mark Davis as the only double winner of the Six Red trophy after trailing a tension-packed semi-final until the final frame.
Vafaei will be wondering how he managed to lose the match after his opponent missed a routine green in the penultimate frame when he seemed certain to force the decider.
He slotted green, brown and blue, but could not find precise position on the pink before misjudging the angle in narrowly failing to slot to the green pocket.
A tactical joust ensued before Un-Nooh was left with a black across the table to left hand centre pocket not dissimilar to the famous pot Stephen Hendry missed in losing the 1998 Masters final 9-8 to Mark Williams at the old Wembley Conference Centre.
It was a do-or-die effort as Un-Nooh rolled the white dead weight across table as the crowd roared their approval when the object ball slipped down the bag.
Buoyed by that brilliance, he made a strong start to the decider and never looked back as a thin clip on the final red to the same left middle pocket confirmed his spot in the final amid delirious scenes among the home fans.
Six Red World Championship
- Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 7-6 Hossein Vafaei
- Tom Ford 0-1 Ding Junhui
- Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Tom Ford or Ding Junhui
‘One of the best escapes I’ve seen’ – Ding makes ‘sensational’ pot
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