Joe Perry reached the second ranking event final of his career – and first in 13 years – with a 6-4 victory over Martin Gould at the Wuxi Classic.
Perry, the 39-year-old from Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, will face close friend and practice partner Neil Robertson over 19 frames on Sunday for the trophy and £85,000 top prize.
It’s Perry’s first ranking final since the 2001 European Open in Malta, when he lost 9-2 to Stephen Hendry. He did win an Asian Tour event in China last season, but victory over Robertson would certainly be the best moment of his career to date. Perry ran Ronnie O’Sullivan close at the recent World Championship before losing 13-11 in the last 16, and will have no fear of taking on defending champion Robertson.
Breaks of 59, 89 and 58 helped put him 5-2 up in his semi-final against Gould. Londoner Gould threatened a fight-back by winning the next two frames to leave the score at 5-4. But a scrappy tenth was sealed by Perry when he potted the brown and blue to clinch his place in the final.
“It feels amazing and wonderful,” said Perry. “I’ve worked really hard to put myself in with a chance of winning tournaments. The table was hard to play on today. I need to have a good night’s sleep and get that out of my system.
“It doesn’t get any tougher than playing Neil in the final. If Ronnie O’Sullivan is in a tournament he’s probably the hardest opponent, but if he’s not in it then I’m sure every other professional would say it’s Neil. His record in finals is phenomenal. We practise together all the time so I know his game and I’ve got nothing to be afraid of. I will have to play close to my best to have a chance of winning.
“The face that we are friends will add a bit of spice to the match, but in a nice way. It’s fantastic for the club where we play because they will all be watching – for a long time they have been talking about whether Neil and I might play in a final.”