Brecel: My Best Feeling Ever
The outrageously talented Luca Brecel made a brace of marvellous breaks in the last two frames to beat Mark Williams 13-11 and reach the quarter-finals of the Cazoo World Championship.
“It’s the best feeling of my career,” said Brecel after an outstanding performance, highlighted by four centuries and eight more breaks over 50, while averaging just 18.8 seconds a shot across the contest. The Belgian had never won a match at the Crucible before this week, but is now showing his quality on the biggest stage. Three-time champion Williams looked favourite when he came from 11-8 down to 11-11 only for Brecel, playing a best-of-25 match for the first time in his career, to take the last two frames in style.
The 28-year-old, snooker’s best ever player from continental Europe, will meet either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Hossein Vafaei on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the winner to appear in the one-table situation for the semi-finals.
Brecel first played at the Crucible in 2012 at the age of just 17 – the youngest player to compete at the venue – but lost in the opening round on his first five appearances in Sheffield. With three ranking titles now under his belt, including this season’s Championship League, he is quickly learning what it takes to win matches on the biggest stage.
Trailing 9-7 going into the last session, Williams looked set to take the opening frame tonight until he missed the black off its spot at 58-0, and Brecel punished him with a 71 clearance. Williams pulled one back with a run of 67 before Brecel’s classy 117 put him 11-8 in front.
In frame 20, Williams led 56-36 when he converted an excellent long pot on the penultimate red, and he added the points he needed to close the gap. The Welshman’s tactical nous was evident again in the 21st as he laid a tough snooker when he trailed 18-28, creating an opening for a break of 54 to draw within a frame at 11-10.
Brecel had a scoring chance in frame 22 but made just 23 before running out of position, then made a safety error which let Williams in for a run of 53 to level for the first time since 6-6. Brecel’s thumping long red initiated a run of 84 to regain the lead, and in frame 24 he knocked in another fabulous red to a baulk corner to set up a match-winning 67.
“It is fantastic for my career to beat someone like Mark over 25 frames because he is such a legend, it’s so difficult to do,” said Brecel. “I had to play well and stay focussed for the whole game. At 11-11 he was playing better and I was struggling. So I didn’t expect to make two great breaks to win the game.
“I have not been practising – and look at how I played! Do we need that much practice? I don’t know. Snooker is more of a mental game, we are all great players. I felt good coming here, mentally. My life is good, I have a new girlfriend. I am relaxed, and that helps me play well, even without practice.
“It’s probably the best feeling in my whole career. In the past I have played a good session and then I play a bad one, but this year all my sessions have been good. I’m happy to play consistently.
“In the next round I’m just going to play the same, play quick, play freely. If I don’t play quick it’s going to get even longer and I’m just going to get exhausted, so I need to play like this to make it easy for myself.
“The ranking points are so big here, that’s what makes the difference I think for players in terms of pressure. It’s such big money but it keeps you safe in the top 16 if you win.”
Williams said: “It was a high quality match all the way through, he played some unbelievable stuff. I put the pressure on him at 11-11 and I was feeling strong. But he made two breaks the last two frames, it’s as good as I’ve seen. He was popping balls from everywhere and thoroughly deserved the win. I just hope he can continue that form – if he plays O’Sullivan – and do himself justice because he’ll be hard to stop.”
On the other table, debutant Jak Jones is on target for a shock win over 2010 champion Neil Robertson going into their concluding session on Saturday afternoon.
World number 52 Jones scored a superb 10-6 win over Ali Carter in the opening round on his Crucible debut and the Welshman now finds himself within three frames of a quarter-final spot.
Robertson made history with two 146 breaks in his 10-3 opening round win over Wu Yize, but so far the Australian hasn’t carried that form into this second round tie.
Robertson took the opener tonight with a century run of 123 to go 5-4 ahead. However, 29-year-old Jones responded with a run of exactly 100 to restore parity.
Jones kicked on and remarkably made it six on the bounce, crafting further breaks of 65 and 74 en route to a 10-5 advantage. Robertson took the last of the session to raise his hopes of a fight-back. They play to a conclusion from 2:30pm.