Kyren Wilson wins dramatic battle on final black to edge closer to World Championship glory

Kyren Wilson – Kyren Wilson wins dramatic battle on final black to edge closer to World Championship glory
Kyren Wilson holds 11-6 lead in the World Snooker Championship final - PA/Mike Egerton

Kyren Wilson is closing on a first World Snooker Championship after withstanding a spirited comeback by Jak Jones and a dramatic seven-minute black ball finish to day one of the final.

After earlier becoming only the third player in Crucible history to win the opening seven frames of a final, Wilson saw his lead cut to 10-6 before salvaging a crucial last frame of the evening after needing a snooker.

Jones was poised to win seven out of the final 10 frames of the day but missed a crucial yellow off its spot before then also misjudging a swerve shot. Wilson still needed several chances before ultimately sinking the black and celebrating with a fist-pump at the end of a gripping safety exchange.

Although Jones had won the evening session 5-4, there was still the very clear sense of a major opportunity missed and he will now resume at 1pm on Monday trailing 11-6 in the race to 18 frames.

“I tend to think that might be his World Championship gone with losing that frame - a five frame going into day two is big,” said seven times champion Stephen Hendry, who was commentating for the BBC. “The first two frames on Monday are monsters. It was dead after the afternoon session - he’s brought it alive.”

Jones, who had enjoyed a fairytale run to the final following wins against Judd Trump and Stuart Bingham, believes that one of the all-time great Crucible comebacks is still possible.

“It’s a miracle I’m still in it,” he said. “I played shocking, absolutely shocking. I’m just knackered, absolutely knackered. If I’d had a decent night’s sleep last night it could have been different.”

Dennis Taylor and Jimmy White are the only previous players to have trailed 7-0 in a final and, while Taylor did memorably recover from 8-0 down to beat Steve Davis 18-17 in 1985, that was after reducing the overnight deficit to 9-7.

Wilson lost against Ronnie O’Sullivan in his only previous final appearance in 2020 but has been among the world’s top 10 almost continuously over the past five years.

Jones, who is the world number 44 and needed to win two qualifying matches even to reach the Crucible, has been unhappy during this tournament at some of the reactions to his surprise run to the final.

Both Trump and Bingham claimed that it had been hard to find their rhythm against a player who is tactically astute but ranked the second slowest for shot time in this year’s main draw. Jones has also made only two century breaks en route to snooker’s big showpiece occasion compared to a combined tally of 24 for the other semi-finalists but has demonstrated that there is more to the game than simply heavy scoring.

“It seems like a common excuse that these players use against me,” said Jones. “They are supposed to be the best players in the world but they are moaning about being knocked out of their rhythm. They just can’t accept it. It’s pathetic really, isn’t it?”

Jones was also criticised by the six-times world champion Steve Davis for not heading straight for the practice table during the afternoon interval after losing the first four frames.

“He’s been sitting in his chair,” Davis said. “Why would you not go to the practice table? It’s a no-brainer to me.”

Hendry was also blunt in assessing the overall tournament standard at a time when there is talk of quadrupling the £500,000 first prize by moving the event to Saudi Arabia or China. “The absence of the real top players, the new world number one [Mark Allen], Ronnie, Judd, [Mark] Selby, [Mark] Williams, all these players who have been dominating snooker these last few years.... [to have] none of them in the final stages, is incredible,” he said

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