Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen is relishing the chance to claim his place in the final of the Dafabet Masters for the first time on Saturday night.
Fresh from his stunning 6-1 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan, Allen will take on John Higgins in the semi-finals at Alexandra Palace.
The 31-year-old said he is ‘excited’ by the opporunity to challenge for the tournament title.
“My game is in good shape but I’m not getting carried away,” he said.
“The latter stages of these big events are where you want to be but I still have two very tough matches ahead of me if I’m going to win this tournament.”
Allen saw off Luca Brecel 6-3 in the first round before knocking out O’Sullivan but says he needs to improve further to be in with a chance of reaching the final.
“Against Luca I scored OK in parts but I gave a few chances away and it was the same against Ronnie, where I scored pretty well but still gave him a few chances,” Allen said.
“On another day those games could have been a lot closer but I still think my game is in good shape - I just have to sharpen up a few things.”
The world number eight has no issues with the sometimes boisterous London crowd at the Palace and says the atmosphere is part and parcel of the occasion.
“The crowd are normally a bit louder at the weekend and they get involved a bit more but that just adds to the occasion,” added the former world semi-finalist.
“That’s why you play - you want to be involved in the big arenas in the later stages of big tournaments. That’s what it’s all about and you will judge your career by how you performed on those big occasions.
“There will be no more nerves than any other match - I enjoy the matches against the best players as I feel it brings out the best in me and I can get up for it a bit more. It doesn’t really faze me who I’m playing,” said Allen, who previously reached the Masters semi-finals in 2011 and 2015.
“If I get to the final it will be a nice feather in my cap but I didn’t come here to reach the final. I came here to win the tournament.”
Allen’s opponent, Higgins, raced into the semi-finals after demolishing Ryan Day 6-1.
The two-time Masters champion hit breaks of 113 and 115 to complete victory, winning five straight frames after the opening two were shared.
Earlier, Judd Trump booked a semi-final spot against Kyren Wilson after surviving Shaun Murphy’s comeback to win 6-4.
The 28-year-old was 4-2 up before Murphy levelled at 4-4 but breaks of 111 and 113 wrapped the match up for Trump.