Judd Trump narrowly avoided a shock defeat in a thrilling clash with Crucible debutant Chris Wakelin, taking a final frame decider to win 10-9 at the Betfred World Championship.
For the second year in a row Trump was involved in a tense and emotion fuelled battle with an underdog. Just 12 months ago the Ace in the Pack suffered one of the biggest ever first round upsets at the Crucible, when he was stunned by a 10-8 defeat against Rory McLeod.
On this occasion the 2011 runner-up was pitted against world number 55 Wakelin, who emphatically secured his place at the Crucible thanks to a 10-1 defeat of Tian Pengfei in the final round of qualifying.
Former delivery driver Wakelin assumed the role of the chaser from the off and trailed for the majority of the tie. Despite coming out of the first session 6-3 behind, he did enjoy a special moment when he compiled a run of 141 – the highest break of his career.
Breaks of 51 and 57 helped 28-year-old Trump to move 8-4 in front this evening and at that stage he had looked set for an early finish. However, Wakelin stepped up to the plate and ramped up the pressure on Trump and he dramatically buckled.
A run of 68 helped Wakelin to reduce the gap to 8-5. Trump then had the opportunity to quell any hopes of a fightback, but missed the final pink to allow Wakelin to close the gap to two.
The eight-time ranking event winner continued to misfire as Wakelin took the next two frames to draw level for the first time since the beginning of the match at 8-8.
Trump then moved 9-8 ahead and was in position to snatch victory in the following frame. After trailing 65-0, he strung together a run of 61 as he looked to come from behind to take the frame, but missed a tricky black to the middle and allowed Wakelin to deposit it and force a decider.
The emotional turmoil for both players was there for all to see amid sizzling tension in the Crucible arena.
Trump missed two straightforward blues and a simple red which afforded Wakelin opportunities to steal the match. He failed to capitalise, dramatically going in-off when potting the pink on the third chance. Eventually Trump got over the line on the final green and Wakelin failed in his attempts to get the required snookers. The Ace in the Pack will now face Ricky Walden in the last 16.
“I had a big lead and almost threw it away, I knew the balls would punish me. I was surprised in the end to get another chance,” said Trump. “I’m relieved to get through, but I know I’m going to have to up my game. I don’t want to play like that in the next round and lose, or there would be no point winning today.
“Sometimes you miss under pressure, but a few of those misses weren’t down to pressure, they were just bad misses. On the last red there were two balls together, and it was an easy clearance but I completely took my eye off it. I think in the last frame the balls were so perfect that we got carried away a little bit and rushed at the table. Chris will be devastated to have lost that one, he dug in and played really well for his first time here.”
Wakelin said: “It’s been one of those days. I’ve tried my hardest, and have not left anything out there. The balls that I missed I put one hundred percent into, and the frames that I lost I tried my best. I did have chances in the decider which is probably the most important thing about it. All you ask for is one opportunity and I had plenty, so that’s very disappointing. You practise all those hours, days, weeks and years for that moment but sadly today I fell short.
“There are lot of positives to draw. I never gave in, I was trying right to the end. I made my Crucible debut, and it’s an amazing arena. You dream of playing here, even more you dream of winning here. It’s been a really good season for me, I’ve enjoyed practising and testing myself. We’re very privileged to play snooker. I try not to take that for granted at all.”
Meanwhile, Barry Hawkins took a 5-3 lead over Lyu Haotian as their second round match got underway.
Hawkins, runner-up in 2013 and a semi-finalist on three other occasions, was off to a tremendous start as breaks of 91, 71, 64 and 129 put him 4-0 ahead.
China’s Lyu, who knocked out Marco Fu in the first round on his Crucible debut, took the fifth frame with a 73 then Hawkins went 5-1 ahead with a 103. In a high quality session, Lyu responded with 95 to take the seventh frame and a 42 clearance to win the eighth.
They resume on Friday at 2.30pm.