Milkins Completes Epic Fight-Back
Robert Milkins pulled off one of the great first round Crucible come-backs as he recovered a 7-2 deficit to beat Joe Perry 10-9 at the Cazoo World Championship.
In a match which started on Monday evening and finished 66 hours later, Milkins recorded the biggest successful first round fight-back since 2017 when Marco Fu battled from 7-1 behind to beat Luca Brecel 10-9. Perry looked by far the stronger player in Tuesday’s session as he built a commanding lead, but his touch deserted him today as he missed a string of chances, allowing Milkins to turn the tide.
Competing as a top 16 seed at the Crucible for the first time in his 28-year career, Welsh Open champion Milkins goes through to the last 16 to face Shaun Murphy or Si Jiahui. The 47-year-old from Gloucester has appeared in the second round three times before and has never reached the quarter-finals.
Milkins took the first two frames this morning with a top break of 61 to reduce the gap to 7-4, then the next two were shared to leave the interval scoreline at 8-5. Runs of 51, 53 and 55 helped Milkins battle back to 8-8.
A scrappy 17th frame came down to the colours and Perry had a chance but missed a tricky brown to a baulk corner, and fell behind for the first time in the match. Two-time ranking event winner Perry bounced back with a run of 63 for 9-9.
World number 14 Milkins had first clear chance in the decider and made 63. After a brief safety exchange, he knocked in a long red and added the points he needed.
“From 7-2 down you are pretty much dead and buried,” said Milkins. “You just come out and try and make the score respectable. I won the first two frames but then lost the next for 8-4 which was a set back. I dug in and managed to close the gap. If I had ended up losing 10-9 after being 9-8 up, I would have been more gutted than losing 10-2.
“I tried to be more positive, playing the percentage shots but being a bit more aggressive and speeding up a bit to get myself going. I am not totally happy with the tip on my cue, it will take more time to bed in. I have some time to practise now and be ready for round two.”
Perry, who beat Mark Davis 10-9 in the final qualifying round but was on the wrong end of the same scoreline today, said: “It was a shambles today for me. I never got going, I started bad and gradually got worse. I was playing safety shots and catching everything thick. I was bemused by what was happening. It was the same Rob Milkins I played on Tuesday night and I dominated the session. I didn’t lose today because of anything special Rob did. He played better than he did the other night, but he was allowed to play by my mistakes.”