World number 53 Martin Gould stunned Judd Trump to win 6-3 and book his place in the BetVictor European Masters final in Milton Keynes.
Gould now faces Mark Selby in tomorrow’s title match, over the best of 17 frames, with a top prize of £80,000 on the line.
The Pinner potter faced potential relegation from the circuit just over a month ago, but qualified for the World Championship to salvage his professional status. During his run at the Crucible he openly discussed his battles with depression and admitted he had considered hanging up his cue.
Gould’s only ranking event win to date came four years ago at the 2016 German Masters, where he beat Luca Brecel to claim the title. He also beat Trump that week en route silverware in Berlin. Tomorrow will be Gould’s first appearance in a ranking final since then.
World number one Trump took the opener this evening and had looked to be in a strong position to double his advantage when he led 56-0 in the second. However, a fine clearance of 65 saw Gould get his first frame on the board. They shared the following two frames to head into the mid-session level at 2-2.
When they returned Gould edged ahead for the first time, but was immediately pinned back by Trump, who fired in a break of 89 to restore parity at 3-3. Gould claimed the following two frames to move one from victory and blitzed over the line in style, with a fine run of 102.
“Considering that six or eight weeks ago I was on the verge of retiring and now I’m in the final of the European Masters, you couldn’t make it up really,” said 39-year-old Gould. “They always say that after a long journey you actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve started to see that light. Since the Crucible I’ve played two days. Most of the time you found me on the golf course, my happy place. I’m just enjoying myself and I think that is showing with how I’m playing.
“To win a ranking event is what you play snooker for. Whether it be the World Championship or something else, you want to win tournaments. That is what you turn up for. 128 players turn up, 127 go home and there is one winner. I want to be that one winner.
“You are never going to get an easy game in the final. I’m just going to go out there with the same attitude as I had tonight. I’ll enjoy it and see what happens. I’ll just let myself go with the flow.”
Selby held off a Shaun Murphy fightback to win 6-3 and earn his place in tomorrow’s final.
Tomorrow will see 17-time ranking event winner Selby appear in a ranking final for the 27th time. He has an incredible conversion rate in recent finals, having won his last nine title matches. Selby’s most recent piece of silverware came at the 2019 Scottish Open.
The Jester from Leicester got off to an electric start this evening. Breaks of 84, 65 and 78 helped him on the way to establishing an emphatic 5-1 advantage.
Murphy showed his steel by making a contribution of 60 to come from behind and claim the seventh frame. He then made it 5-3 after clearing the colours to take the eighth. However, it was to no avail, after Selby ended any hopes of a comeback and got over the line to seal the 6-3 victory.
Selby said: “I felt as if I played really well throughout the match. To go 5-1 up, I didn’t really do much wrong. I probably should have won the match 6-1.
“Coming here I was confident from the World Championship, even though it was gutting to lose in the semi-final and get that close. I’ve still taken a lot of positives from it. I think that has shown this week and in the Championship League, I qualified there.
“It would be great to win tomorrow. It is strange times at the moment, with no crowd out there. To be playing in any tournament is fantastic. My motivation is there just as much as if there was a full crowd. I’ll be trying my hardest as always, hopefully I can come out on the right side.”