Ding Junhui has challenged himself to go on and win the Betway UK Championship after sealing his first semi-final appearance at the event since lifting the trophy ten years ago.

The 32-year-old – who also won the first Triple Crown event of the season in 2005 – became the first player at this year’s tournament to reach the last four with a comfortable 6-2 win over Chinese compatriot Liang Wenbo.

Having arrived at the York Barbican without going further than two quarter-final appearances this season, Ding has shown glimpses of his best form on his way to the latter stages of the competition.

And having led his quarter-final from start to finish – with a ton and two half-centuries in tow – he explained he is playing with a certain freedom that he hopes will ultimately guide him to his 14th ranking tournament win.

“Making the semi-finals is amazing,” he said. “But it means I have to go on and win the competition now!

“I’m very pleased with the way I played and how I’ve improved throughout the tournament. I’m not getting too carried away but I’m feeling confident now in front of any opponent.

“I think I’m maybe feeling less pressure now than at the start of the season. I was given some really useful advice about the best methods for me and it seems to be working out there on the table.

“I just don’t think too much now. I don’t get upset by results or get too negative, I just play my shots and my game seems to be in a good place at the moment.

“I think there might still be room for improvement but at the moment I’m doing enough to win so I’m happy. That’s what it’s been like all week so I hope I can just carry that on now.”

With shocks aplenty already in the UK Championship, the Sheffield-based potter has emerged as one of the favourites to be crowned the winner for the third time.

But with 19-year-old Yan Bingtao next up – who beat four-time world champion John Higgins in his quarter-final – Ding knows he faces an almighty battle to secure his place in the tournament's showpiece.

He said: “I’m not sure if I’m one of the favourites, I just have to focus on my next game.

“Yan’s a really talented player and he’s flying up the rankings table. He’s already won the Riga Masters this year so he’ll be very confident.

“I think he’s ready for the top level and to win the biggest tournaments because he’s emerged into a brilliant player, so he will put up a good fight for sure.”

Watch the UK Championship live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White.