Perry Edges Thriller To Relegate Davis
Joe Perry claimed a black ball decider against Mark Davis to win 10-9 and qualify for the Cazoo World Championship, ending his opponent and close friend’s 32 year run as a professional.
Davis needed to reach the final stages to retain his tour card and had looked set to do it, when he found himself on a match ball final pink. However, he agonisingly spurned his opportunity to the top left.
Perry stepped up and deposited pink and black to clinch a dramatic victory. After the final ball dropped, the Gentleman slumped his shoulders and looked visibly emotional at the table, with the mixed feelings provoked by what had just occurred.
Victory sees 2022 Welsh Open champion Perry earn a first trip to the final stages since 2019, having lost his first match in the previous three years. Davis will now require Q School if he wishes to regain his professional status.
Earlier in the tie, with Davis leading 7-6, Perry crucially took the 14th on the black to restore parity. He then also won the 15th on the final ball to move 8-7 ahead.
Runs of 104 and 75 saw Davis regain the lead at 9-8, before Perry crafted a contribution of 58 to take the tie to that nerve shredding final frame.
“I should be absolutely delighted, over the moon and celebrating. I am chuffed to bits to go to the Crucible, but the way it has happened. I just feel so sick for him,” said 48-year-old Perry.
“I came to the table (after Davis missed the pink) and I felt physically sick for him. It was a horrible feeling. He is one of my best friends and has been for a long time. I felt sick and I potted a great pink and black.
“It never bothered me the whole match, that he was going to drop off the tour if I win. It didn’t enter my head once, until that clearance. It must have hit him like a ton of bricks, because it hit me. It doesn’t matter to me, it matters to him so it must have been awful.”
China’s Pang Junxu secured a Crucible debut after beating compatriot Xu Si 10-5. Pang reached his maiden ranking final at the recent WST Classic, where he was beaten by Mark Selby in the title match. The 23-year-old has carried that form over to this week.
He led 5-4 coming into the evening session and blitzed to the win. Breaks of 85, 86, 102 and 67 helped Pang to five of the six frames played and saw him secure victory.
Pang said: “Before the match, I told myself many times, ‘don’t think about winning, playing at the Crucible and all the stuff comes with it’, so I was able to focus throughout. It is incredible and I’m over the moon, but to be honest both of my opponents offered me with a lot of chances.”
David Grace started the week knowing he needed to win his first match to remain on the circuit. He achieved that by defeating Sean O’Sullivan and followed it up with a win over Sam Craigie. Today, he beat amateur Andrew Higginson 10-5 to reach the final stages of the World Championship.
“If you’d offered me winning my first match I’d have taken it. Getting in the 64 and not being at Q School is everything,” said 37-year-old Grace.
“It is really special to get to the Crucible. It is right up there with the best achievements of my career. I’ve had a couple of semi-finals and got to the Crucible last time. It is brilliant to be back there.”
Iran’s Hossein Vafaei earned his second consecutive Crucible appearance with a 10-6 win over Welshman Jackson Page.
Vafaei came into this evening with a 6-3 advantage and managed his lead well to get over the line, crafting breaks of 84, 52 and 115 along the way.
“I don’t care who I play at the Crucible. At the end of the day it is a game of snooker and I am going to play my game. It is my job to play snooker and try my best to perform. I will be respectful of all my opponents and everyone is tough. There is no easy draw for anyone,” said 2022 Shoot Out winner Vafaei.
“It has been a hard journey for me. It is my life and I will take it. I am writing everything down, one day my story will come out and I think it will be good for snooker. I have some story to tell. Let’s see what I do at the Crucible. Hopefully my best comes out, like at the Masters. I can’t wait to play at the Crucible as well.”
World number 60 Elliot Slessor will appear at the Theatre of Dreams for a second time, after scoring an impressive 10-5 defeat of Zhou Yuelong.
The North East cueman made his Crucible debut in 2020, which unfortunately coincided with the coronavirus pandemic forcing proceedings behind closed doors. He was beaten 10-7 by Yan Bingtao on that occasion.
Slessor has recently started working with 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon as his coach in a bid to improve his temperament, which he admits isn’t his strongest attribute.
Slessor said: “I don’t think I’m ever going to be blessed with the best temperament. That is just not my personality and not the way I go about life. I’m trying to reign it in as best as I can. I know I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be, but I am trying. That is all I can do.”
Former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson booked his place in the final stages thanks to a comprehensive 10-2 defeat of Anthony Hamilton.
World number 27 Robertson will be hoping to fare better than he has in his four trips to the Theatre of Dreams. He is yet to win a game in the final stages and last made a Crucible appearance back in 2018.
Former Crucible semi-finalist David Gilbert beat two-time runner-up Matthew Stevens 10-7 to qualify. The other game saw Ryan Day receive a 10-0 win over Scott Donaldson, who had to withdraw at 4-0 down due to medical reasons.