Perry Set For Judgement Day
Joe Perry won his first Cazoo World Championship match in four years, after edging to a 10-8 victory against world number 102 Sanderson Lam to make Judgement Day at Crucible qualifying.
The last time Perry appeared at the Theatre of Dreams was at the 2019 World Championship. In the years that followed he has been forced to watch from the sidelines, working as a pundit and commentator for the BBC, after losing at the first qualifying hurdle on three successive occasions.
The former Crucible semi-finalist now faces close friend Mark Davis for a place in the final stages. Davis earned his place with a 10-8 victory against Lyu Haotian. It will be an emotionally charged affair, with Perry knowing his opponent needs to qualify in order to retain his professional status.
Perry came into this afternoon’s session facing a 5-4 deficit. He turned the match on its head, with breaks of 68, 90, 132 and 72 on his way to establishing a 9-5 advantage. Lam dug in to keep in contention by taking three on the bounce to make it 9-8, but Perry got over the line to seal victory.
“It’s the first game I’ve won at the World Championship for quite a few years. It is important to win your first round at this event as we all know, with so many ranking points on the line. I thought I played well all match and stepped it up today. Sanderson gave a really good account of himself,” said 48-year-old Perry.
“I think the punditry has made it less of a pressurised thing for me to get back there. I really enjoy the work in the media side of the World Championship. I don’t feel that I’ve missed out on the Crucible if I lose.
“The best thing about playing Mark is that if I lose, even though I would be disappointed, I would be delighted for him. I will give everything and try to beat him 10-0 if we play. It would be horrible to be the one to push him off tour though.
“It won’t seep into my mentality, although it could with Mark if it could be his last ever match on tour. He is so good he can get back through Q School no problem I think, but it will be a different match for Mark than it is for me. It is another snooker match for me and it will be a tough one.”
World number 23 Hossein Vafaei scored a comfortable 10-4 win over Welshman Andrew Higginson to earn his place in the final round.
Vafaei made his Crucible debut 12 months ago, but exited at the first round with a 10-4 loss at the hands of Judd Trump. If he is to return there this year he must win an intriguing final round clash with Jackson Page, who also made his debut last year and beat Barry Hawkins in the first round. Page beat Martin Gould 10-6 today.
Iran’s Vafaei crafted breaks of 64 and 95 on his way to wrapping up the win this afternoon. He is in a confident mood, but isn’t looking beyond his next assignment against Page.
Vafaei said: “I have to qualify first. You see so many players say they will do this or that and they disappear all of a sudden. If I qualify for the Crucible then I will try my best to go far and make my people happy.
“It was a tough match against Judd Trump last year. It was my first time and I didn’t handle the situation very well. This year is completely different and I think I would play better if I qualified.”
David Gilbert booked his progression thanks to a comfortable 10-3 win over Barry Pinches. He now faces Matthew Stevens, who beat Jamie Clarke by the same scoreline.