Gary Wilson Ready To Shine As A Seeded Contender
Former semi-finalist Gary Wilson will be returning to the Crucible as a seed this year and will be up against a very familiar face in the first round.
By Tomos Wyn Jones
Elliot Slessor awaits Wilson in the last 32, and although he’s described it as a “nightmare” draw – he’s excited to get his head down and into action.
The Tyneside Terror said: “There are no good draws, all the players that have qualified are very good players. Just because you’re playing a qualifier as a seed doesn’t give me any given right that I should win.
“I know Elliot really well, it’s a little bit of a nightmare in the sense that one of us has to lose. I know for (coach) Paul Rinaldi in the North East Snooker Centre that it was a bit gutting because he has two players facing each other, one of us is going to have to lose and the other goes through to the next round.”
Wilson won his first ranking title earlier in the season at the Scottish Open, but narrowly missed out on qualification for the Tour Championship. If he had reached the WST Classic final last month he would have made it to Hull for the last event in the 2023 Duelbits Series, but agonisingly lost 5-4 to Pang Junxu in the semi-finals.
“I’d rather not have had the extra time to prepare for Sheffield, I’d rather have been in the Tour Championship and have the match practice, the prize money and the other rewards that come with it,” he admits. “I was gutted when I lost to Pang, as gutted as I have been in quite a while. Winning that match would have been a game changer, it would have pushed me in the right direction to build on other things coming into Sheffield.
“But once I knew I was a seed for the Crucible, that made the blow of less significance and allowed me to focus more on the World Championship.”
On his ambitions for this year’s tournament, Wilson’s first target is to repeat his 2019 run when he got to the last four.
“It’s an ambition to win the tournament, but I suppose it’s important to try and get back to the one table set-up again,” he said. “I’ve been there before and want to get back there again.
“I’ll take one match at a time, one ball at a time, it’s all you can do, I’ve got to concentrate on every shot, frame and match. If I can get through, start winning, then the semi-finals is the next hurdle, if I get there than I’ll start thinking about winning it but it’s a long way away, a big tournament, one match at a time.”
Wilson and Slessor get underway on Tuesday at 10am.