By Ben Ramsdale
David Gilbert has topped off an excellent season by coming to the Betfred World Championship as a top 16 seed for the first time.
The 37-year-old from Tamworth has climbed into the world’s elite, thanks in part to runs to the final of the Yushan World Open and German Masters, though he was denied those titles by Mark Williams and Kyren Wilson.
He faces Joe Perry in the first round at the Crucible on Monday and Tuesday.
“It feels fantastic, it’s a big tick off of my bucket list to be able to say that I was a top 16 player at the Crucible,” said Gilbert. “Losing two finals is obviously disappointing and I’d love to win a big tournament. I’ve come close, it has been a great season and I can only take the positives from it.
“I’ve missed out the Crucible in the last couple of years so it’s brilliant to be here. It’s a special place and you get a buzz you never really feel anywhere else. I’m really excited about getting out there and hopefully I can settle down and get into the game.
“I’ve been here four times before and only ever won one game (against Martin Gould 2012) so my record isn’t exactly tournament winning form. To get a win on the board against Joe would be a good start.
“I’m not delusional, I’m never going be a five-time World Champion. But if I can ever win a tournament , that would make me happy for the rest of my days.”
Gilbert also had a tip for young players watching the tournament and looking to improve their game: “Ronnie O’Sullivan looks like dynamite every time he plays. Neil Robertson has won the last couple of tournaments. Watch those guys, learn from them and you will get better.”