Dubai: Thai player Noppon Saengkham and Pakistan’s Mohammad Asif won their semi-finals to set up an enticing title showdown in the 2012 Dubai International Open at Dubai Snooker Club.
The former world under-21 champion Noppon had breaks of 72, 66 and 60 to hand a 5-0 whitewash to 2012 Arab Championship silver medallist Karam Fatima of Syria on Friday evening.
In the other semi-final played simultaneously, Pakistan No 1 Asif proved too hot to handle for Andy Lee of Hong Kong as he raced to a similar whitewash victory.
Noppon has three centuries to his credit in the tournament, with his 125-point run in the quarter-finals being the highest of the tournament. Asif, on the other hand, has scored two tons with 120 being his best effort.
While Noppon has been the picture of consistency throughout the tournament, Asif’s form has seen ups and downs on a regular basis.
Asif, commenting on his clash with Noppon, said: “He may be young but he is a far more accomplished player and his record in international snooker has been excellent. I have no qualms about rating him as the favourite.”
Noppon said: “I am happy with the way I have played and I have high hopes of winning the title. I have never played Asif before but if he has come this far in the tournament then he must be very good. I am not going to take him lightly and am expecting a tough challenge from him.”
Noppon started his semi-final by knocking home a fine break of 72 to make his intentions clear to Fatima.
The Syrian ace, who has been struggling with his game in the tournament, put up a fight in the second but Noppon hit back with a run of 66 points to steal the frame, rallying from 30-62 down.
The third was a close and tactical battle with Noppon once again coming out on the top, capturing it on the black ball to add one more frame to his tally.
Noppon’s domination of the next two frames was complete and a break of 60 in the fifth ended Fatima’s run in the tournament.