Jak Jones secures World Championship final spot

Jak Jones secures World Championship final spot

Jak Jones sealed his status as one of the unlikeliest of World Snooker Championship finalists after completing an attritional 17-12 triumph over former champion Stuart Bingham at the Crucible.

The world number 44, who has never previously reached a ranking final, will face Kyren Wilson in the two-day final starting on Sunday after Wilson overcame David Gilbert 17-11.

Jones fought through two qualifying rounds just to reach the first round proper and becomes only the ninth qualifier in 47 years at the Crucible to clinch his place in the final.

“It’s crazy, it was totally unexpected coming into the tournament,” said Jones. “I don’t think I’ve played particularly well. I’ve watched the world final every year on TV at home and to be in it doesn’t feel real yet, it hasn’t sunk in.”

Bingham had pulled back to 13-11 in the first frame of the evening session, but the match pivoted in the next when Bingham made an inexplicable error attempting to play safe on the green and let the Welshman in to clear up and re-establish a three-frame lead.

Jones maintained his advantage through more tough frames in a match that drifted towards 12-and-a-half hours, then capitalised on a missed black by Bingham to move one frame from victory with a coolly-taken 70 break.

More errors from Bingham served up the first chance for Jones in the next and he won it in two visits to complete his fairy tale run to the final.

“I don’t feel that excited to be honest,” shrugged Jones. “I suppose I should, but I’ve had so much disappointment so far in my career that I don’t get particularly excited. I don’t get too down, and when I do win, no matter how big it is, I just feel like it’s job done.”

Earlier, 12th seed Wilson took three of the four frames required in Saturday’s third session to wrap up his win over Gilbert that earns him a second crack at the title following his defeat in the 2020 final to Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Five frames in succession in their second session on Friday evening had done the damage as Wilson turned a neck-and-neck clash, that was finely poised at 9-9, into a four-frame advantage he never looked likely to squander.

Gilbert did reduce the deficit to 14-11 with a break of 70 in the opening frame of the day, but after coming off worse in a lengthy safety battle in the next, his fate was effectively sealed.

Wilson punched the air and blew a kiss to his family in the stand after potting the decisive blue and will start a heavy favourite in his second final on Sunday.

Afterwards, the 32-year-old revealed he has been benefiting from sessions with a hypnotherapist during his run to the final, which comes at the end of a low-key season in which he had just one tour semi-final, at the German Masters, to his name.

“It’s just about emptying your stress bucket,” said Wilson. “We all have things going on that can affect our day-to-day life and it allowed me to go out there and be a little bit freer.

“Our minds are so clogged up with so many different things that don’t need to be there, so if you can just eliminate them and go out and play snooker it makes the game a hell of a lot easier.

“When he (Gilbert) missed a few in the third session I knew I had to hit home. Dave could cue me off the table quite easily, so I knew I had to win that mental battle.”

It capped a stirring revival from Wilson, who has endured a difficult two years, partly due to injury and illness within his family, and he showed no ill effects from last year’s crushing 13-2 loss to John Higgins as he swept aside Dominic Dale, Joe O’Connor then Higgins with relative ease.

“I have changed dramatically,” added Wilson. “Back then if it wasn’t quite going right, panic alarms would have gone off, and maybe my game would have deteriorated, but I’ve gathered the experience and learned a tough lesson.”

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