Stuart Bingham has heaped praise upon his Masters semi-final opponent Dave Gilbert after the debutant reached the last four of the competition.
Bingham produced a gutsy comeback against Kyren Wilson to book his place with a 6-4 win, but will have to overcome the excellent Gilbert to reach the final at Alexandra Palace.
“I think he’s the man of the tournament,” said Bingham of his upcoming opponent. “(The 144 break) shows what level he’s at at the moment, so fair play to him.
“It can be pretty frightening here. I’ve come here and froze loads of times, but he’s letting his snooker do the talking.
“He’s a danger in any tournament he enters.”
Gilbert enjoyed a run to the semi-finals of last year’s World Championships in Sheffield, and after reaching the Masters semis for the first time he declared he feels comfortable at the top level now.
“I felt great again, just like the first round,” he said after beating Maguire 6-2 in the quarter-final.
“After the interval, after the guy in the audience felt a bit unwell… I just lost my concentration a little bit, and I was lucky to win the next couple of frames.
“They’re big frames, they add up. They’re frames I used to lose all the time.
“Stephen started to play well and he was flowing, and I think he missed a red down the rail and I thought to myself ‘Come on, one last push.’
“I’ve never dreamed about being in the Masters, it was never possible. It was never on the agenda.
“I’m starting to believe in myself a lot more. I feel comfortable in my surroundings. I’m not intimidated anymore by anything or the scenario. I want to be out there playing the best players.”