Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott were today looking to capitalise on overnight leads as they closed in on semi-final victories at the Betfred.com World Championship.
Australian ace Robertson was just two frames away from the final after opening up a 15-9 lead over Essex's Ali Carter, while Dott had further to go and two sessions to play but was well placed after moving 10-6 ahead against Mark Selby.
Robertson almost gave up on his snooker career in his late teens when he could not settle in England and returned to his home city of Melbourne.
Although he dominated the Australian snooker scene, effectively his snooker stagnated due to the lack of competition, and his prospects of future success on the international stage appeared bleak.
But Robertson gave the sport another shot as a profession in 2003, after securing a place on the main tour, and since settling in his adopted home city of Cambridge the 28-year-old has hardly looked back, winning four world ranking titles including the Grand Prix in Glasgow last October. He has made four centuries already against Carter.
The last man from outside the British Isles to reach a World Championship final was Canadian Cliff Thorburn, who lost to Steve Davis in 1983. Thorburn won the world title in 1980, becoming the only player from outside the UK and Ireland to ever triumph at Sheffield's famous theatre.
Carter gave himself some hope by winning back-to-back frames before Robertson pinched the last of the night by clearing from green to pink, punching the air in an emotive outburst as he secured his six-frame lead.
Dott, the 2006 champion, became just the second man in the tournament's history to make a 146 break as the resurgent Scot took charge of his semi-final against Selby.
And by reaching the semi-finals in Sheffield he guaranteed himself not only a top-16 ranking but another shot at world title glory. The 2004 runner-up secured a first Crucible crown in 2006, beating Peter Ebdon, and on the evidence of the first two sessions against Selby he is playing well enough to win again.
Dott's masterful near-maximum effort came in the 13th frame, taking an early pink before following each other red with the black. Until this World Championship the event had never seen a 146 - there have been nine 147s - but Northern Ireland's Mark Allen made one in his second-round match against Mark Davis to create history. Unless there is a maximum, Allen and Dott will be sharing the £10,000 top break prize.