Brazilian number one Igor Figueiredo is one win away from becoming the first South American to compete at the Crucible, after defeating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-5 to earn a Judgement Day spot at Betfred World Championship Qualifying.
Figueiredo will now face Mark Joyce in the final round with a place at the Theatre of Dreams on the line. The extent of his success this week can be illustrated by the fact that he hadn’t previously won a match at Crucible qualifying since 2015, when he lost to Robin Hull in the final round.
The 43-year-old from Rio De Janeiro first turned professional in 2010, having only played on a full-size snooker table for the first time a year earlier. Figueiredo bases himself out of the Q House Academy in Darlington and lives away from his wife and three children, who are back home in Brazil, in order to pursue his professional snooker career.
He showed his talent today by battling back from 5-4 down to defeat Thai number one Un-Nooh. A superb break of 84 forced a decider, before Figueiredo crafted a gutsy run of 59 to take the final frame.
World number 85 Figueiredo said: “It is a big dream to get to the Crucible. I maybe won’t sleep tonight thinking about this. For most people the dream is to become World Champion. My dream is to visit the Crucible one time. I would be the first South American player to compete there. I can’t explain, my dream is nearly real.
“I’m living in the UK to improve my level. I miss my wife and my children a lot every day. I see pictures and get power from them to survive and work hard. I have been working ten hours a day over the last two months for this tournament. Sometimes it is painful in my body because I have worked so hard for this moment.
“In Brazil the tables are ten feet and there is a lot of pool. I just started to play snooker in 2009 at 32 years old. I’d never played full size in my life. I’m so happy because I think I have improved a lot. This tournament has amazing players and I started at 32 years old. I believe in myself and I feel like a star player.”
Ryan Day came through an enthralling encounter with Louis Heathcote 6-5. The Welshman missed a black off the spot to win 6-4, Heathcote then potted it himself to force a decider. However, a crucial break of 30 saw Day claim the final frame on the colours.
Day will now face Ricky Walden on Judgement Day. Walden was a comfortable 6-1 winner against Peter Lines, who has now been relegated from the circuit and will need to go to Q School.
Jamie Jones is through to the final round after a 6-3 defeat of Michael Holt. That leaves the Welshman one win away from a Crucible berth in his first season back on the World Snooker Tour.
Jones has enjoyed a strong season, having regained his professional status through Q School in 2020. The Welshman dropped off the tour at the end of the 2019 season whilst suspended. However, his return to the circuit has seen him produce some good snooker, including a run to the semi-finals of the 2020 Scottish Open.
Jones now faces Li Hang for a place at the Crucible, after the Chinese cueman overcame Andrew Higginson 6-2.