Page Turns Over Muir
Welsh prospect Jackson Page stormed to an impressive 10-2 win over Ross Muir to reach the third round of Cazoo World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
Page enjoyed a superb run at last year’s World Championship, coming through four rounds of qualifying to earn a Crucible debut. The 21-year-old scored a landmark 10-7 win over Barry Hawkins at the Theatre of Dreams. However, he was dealt a reality check by mentor Mark Williams in the last 16, as he exited by a 13-3 scoreline.
Despite his success here in Sheffield last year, Page hasn’t kicked on this season. His best showing thus far was a run to the last 16 of the recent WST Classic.
Muir will return to the professional ranks next season, after winning the European Amateur Championship earlier this year. However, he was unable to provide strong opposition against an impressive Page, who fired in runs of 78, 58, 54, 102, 84, 81 and 66 on his way to victory. Next up for Page is a third round meeting with Martin Gould.
Looking back on last year’s Crucible experience, Page admits it has left him hungry to get back there and have another chance to compete on snooker’s grandest stage.
“I knew it was going to happen, but to play there relatively early in my career was brilliant. I only want to do better from here on in and progress further,” said world number 56 Page.
“I’ve never felt anything like what I did at the Crucible. Nothing comes close. Against Hawkins it was just the best ever feeling when I won. The crowd was amazing. Losing to Mark was bittersweet. I hate losing, but I had a good tournament leading up to it. I am itching to get back there. That is what I want to do, so hopefully I have a good couple of weeks here in Sheffield.”
Former two-time Crucible finalist Matthew Stevens survived a late night thriller to defeat the charismatic Dechawat Poomjaeng 10-8.
Stevens had a comfortable 7-3 lead after taking the first frame of the evening with a break of 88. However, Thailand’s Poomjaeng mounted an excellent fightback to take the match to the brink of a decider at 9-8, crafting runs of 55, 55, 98 and 91.
The game had looked set for a final frame, with Poomjaeng leaving Stevens requiring two snookers in the 18th. However, he got them and cleared with 34 to steal on the black. Stevens now plays Welsh compatriot Jamie Clarke in round three.
Afterwards Stevens admitted Poomjaeng, who asked him for a selfie in the arena at the conclusion of the first session, is always an unpredictable opponent to face.
“I’m laughing one minute and nearly crying the next. It was such a long day. It was looking like 9-9 and if I’d lost that it would have been a tough one to take. I’ve got loads of scars from games like that so I would have been alright,” said former UK and Masters champion Stevens.
“He’s a character and a lovely guy. It is good to have characters like that in the game, although not at 36 seconds a shot like it was in the first session. He is a class player, knows his way around the snooker table and is a tough player to get rid of.”
Andrew Higginson beat Louis Heathcote 10-7 to book a third round meeting with Joe O’Connor. Defeat for Heathcote means he is relegated from the circuit and will require a trip to Q School if he wishes to return next season.
Mitchell Mann suffers the same fate as Heathcote, after a 10-5 loss at the hands of Sanderson Lam. Next up for Lam is a third round clash against 2022 Welsh Open champion Joe Perry.