Judd Trump pulled away from Gary Wilson to win 17-11 and set up a Betfred World Championship final against John Higgins, a repeat of their 2011 Crucible clash.
Wilson matched his opponent stride for stride in the early stages of their semi-final and led 6-5 at one point, but Trump got stronger as the match progressed and, in the end, won comfortably. He faces Higgins over 35 frames on Sunday and Monday with the winner to lift the trophy and bank snooker’s biggest ever first prize of £500,000.
Eight years ago, Trump jumped into the limelight with his audacious brand of attacking play, and nearly pulled off an astonishing victory, but lost 18-15 to Higgins. Now age 29, wiser, more experienced and with a better all-round game, Trump will relish the challenge of his second Crucible final and another crack at four-time champion Higgins.
Bristol’s Trump has had a career-best season, winning the Masters, the Northern Ireland Open and the World Grand Prix, and the world number seven has the chance to finish it in perfect style. To land a first world title before his 30th birthday would be a milestone achievement, as well as making him the first player to earn over £1 million in a single season.
Wilson has had the best month of his life on the baize, winning three qualifying matches and three more at the Crucible. The 33-year-old from Wallsend leaves with a career-biggest cheque for £100,000.
Trump led 14-10 going into the concluding session, and got the better of a scrappy opening frame tonight to extend his lead. World number 32 Wilson pulled one back with a break of 68 to make it 15-11, but Trump soon quashed any hopes of a fight back with runs of 97 and 88 to take the last two frames.
“My performance was pretty solid, there were a few ups and downs in the game,” said ten-time ranking event winner Trump. “I finished it off well and was very happy with how I played towards the end. I was very pleased to get it over and done with and give myself a little break before the final.
“I’m a different player now compared to the 2011 final. I know when to turn balls down when I’m not playing too well, and how to dig in. My safety’s been a lot better this season and that’s probably the main reason I’ve done so well.
“I hope this final gets close to the same atmosphere of 2011. It’s important against John to get off to a good start, you don’t want him getting too confident. I’m under no illusions as to how hard it’s going to be to beat him. I’m probably going to have to go out there and play the best I’ve ever played.
“In his own head he’s probably massive favourite having been there and done it, under pressure he’s proved how good he is. I’d give everything I’ve won this season to win that trophy. I’m at the age where to win that trophy for me and my family would mean everything. My best years are still ahead of me hopefully. I’m still learning every day as a player.”
Wilson, who had never won a match at the Crucible before this year, said: “I wasn’t good enough over the last two days and that’s why I lost. Judd deserved it, Judd played better. It’s nice to know now that I feel comfortable in the Crucible. I just wish I felt as comfortable in my own game, in my own technique. That’s something I definitely need to work on.
“I’ve been trying to work on that side of my game for ten or 15 years and I haven’t been able to find the answers. All I can do is try and take the positives because I’ve done well in this tournament.”
The final starts at 2pm on Sunday.