David Gilbert moved within one win of his first ranking title by beating Tom Ford 6-3 in the semi-finals of the 19.com English Open.
Tamworth’s Gilbert will face Mark Selby over 17 frames on Sunday, with the winner to lift the Steve Davis Trophy and bank £70,000.
It will be Gilbert’s fourth ranking final and his first on UK soil. He has lost two finals in China, against John Higgins and Mark Williams, as well as one in Germany against Kyren Wilson. Once again this time he’ll be up against a formidable opponent, but having played to a high level throughout the week in Crawley, world number 12 Gilbert will be confident that this could be his turn to go home with the silverware.
Ford took the opening frame tonight with a break of 53 then Gilbert levelled with an 80. The next two frames came down to the colours, and Gilbert took both to lead 3-1.
Leicester’s Ford hit back after the interval with 102 and 74 to level at 3-3. But 38-year-old Gilbert regained the initiative with a superb 134 total clearance in frame seven, then runs of 65 and 52 put him 5-3 ahead.
Ford had two scoring chances early in the ninth but could only muster 12 points, and when he missed a red to a top corner, Gilbert stepped in with a run of 34 which took him close to the winning post. Ford battled for snookers but Gilbert potted green and brown to secure the result.
“I felt tired tonight, I haven’t had much sleep this week and it caught up with me tonight,” said Gilbert. “My body was a bit heavy, my arms didn’t quite feel the same and I wasn’t timing shots well. But that happens sometimes, I didn’t worry about it.
“At 3-3 Tom was looking stronger, I knew I had to step up and find my rhythm again, and I made a good break to go 4-3.
“I’m glad to be playing Mark in the final because he’s a good friend. He has helped me a lot over the last few years by letting me practise with him. I have learned a lot from him and I’m looking forward to sharing the dancefloor with him. He is a legend and I’m just trying to make my way through.”
The final starts at 1pm.