Thepchaiya Un-Nooh came from 4-1 and 5-3 down to beat Kyren Wilson 6-5 and reach the final of the Zhiyuan World Open in Yushan.
Wilson had several match-winning chances in the closing stages but couldn’t take advantage and was beaten to the finish line by Thailand’s 34-year-old Un-Nooh, who will face Judd Trump or John Higgins in Sunday’s final.
Un-Nooh’s only previous ranking final was the one-frame Shoot Out earlier this year, when he beat Michael Holt. He is also a former Six Red World Champion, but tomorrow’s match will be the biggest of his career by far. The world number 37 is already guaranteed his best ever pay day of £75,000, and that will be doubled if he takes the trophy.
In a surprisingly scrappy match between two attacking players, world number nine Wilson took the first three frames despite a top break of just 44. Un-Nooh pulled one back then Wilson nicked the fifth by clearing the colours to go 4-1 up.
Kettering’s Wilson led 42-0 in the next only for Un-Nooh to make a 74 clearance. The next two were shared to leave the score at 5-3, then Un-Nooh took the ninth by clearing the colours, and made a 67 in winning the tenth for 5-5.
Three-time ranking event winner Wilson had first clear chance in the decider and made 38 before missing a straight-forward red. Un-Nooh replied with 61 to give himself the advantage. It came down to the colours and Wilson took the yellow but then missed the green to a top corner, trying to screw back for position. Un-Nooh cleared from green to pink for victory.
“I feel great,” said Un-Nooh. “Before the match I knew I was the under-dog because Kyren is better than me. He’s a big name and he’s in the top ten in the world. But he missed a lot of balls today. When I was 4-1 down my head was gone, but I was still concentrating frame by frame. I did well.
“This is very different to the Shoot Out, that event is only one frame and depends on destiny. This event is long frames and big money. Playing in China is similar to playing in Thailand for me, I am happy here.
“If I play Judd Trump tomorrow the game will be quick, if it’s John Higgins it will be slower. Let’s see what happens. I prefer to play Judd and many Thai people want me to play him, because he beat me at the Crucible (10-9 in the first round). It would be a good game.
“I won’t sleep tonight and I can’t eat. Before the game today I couldn’t eat. I have lost weight this week. When I get to the semis and the final it’s exciting and I can only sleep and eat a little bit.”
Wilson said: “I’m gutted about my performance, I was so poor. Thepchaiya was as well – by his very good standards – so I’m gutted I couldn’t make the most of that. He will have to sharpen up and play a lot better to have any chance in the final. He’s a lovely guy and I wish him all the best. Maybe I peaked a bit too early in this event. I tried my heart out today but it was one of my worst ever performances.”