Michael Wasley reached his first professional quarter-final last week and hopes that will be a springboard to improved form in the coming months.
Wasley was thrust into the limelight last Spring when he made his Crucible debut and caused one of the biggest first round upsets in World Championship history, beating Ding Junhui 10-9.
Gloucester’s Wasley was ranked 75th in the world at the time while Ding had won five ranking events during the season. Yet the fearless 24-year-old Englishman came from 6-3 down to score a dramatic victory. And that was after he’d won four matches in the qualifying rounds, potting a respotted black in the last of those to beat Robert Milkins 10-9.
Wasley was no match for Dominic Dale in the last 16 in Sheffield, losing 13-4. This season is a crucial one as he aims to prove that his heroic run was no flash in the pan. So far this term his form has been patchy, but he made a breakthrough at the European Tour event in Bulgaria by reaching the last eight. His 4-3 victory over Judd Trump in the last 16 was particularly impressive, as he came from 73-0 down in the deciding frame to win it with a 75 clearance.
“It’s not often you get a chance from that far behind where you can still win the frame,” recalls Wasley. “I suppose it must be one of my best ever clearances, especially as it was in a deciding frame. I had to move two reds off cushions then once I’d done that it was just a case of holding things together.
“I’ve been friends with Judd for many years but that was the first time we had met in a pro event. I just tried to enjoy it and it turned out to me a good match for me. Even when Judd is not on his A game, he’s still very hard to beat.
“I lost to Peter Ebdon in the next round but it was still a step forward for me to get to my first quarter-final.”
Wasley, who qualified for the tour by coming through Q School in 2012, added: “This season has not been great for me so far, I had a good run to the last 48 of the Shanghai Masters but otherwise I haven’t done well in the main ranking events. Now I feel as if my season is getting started.
“It has been difficult to recapture the form I showed at the end of last season. I finished 65th in the rankings so just missed out on the top 64. I kept my tour place via the European Tour Order of Merit, but it meant I went back to zero on the prize money list. When I was playing Dominic at the Crucible I knew that would be the case and it was on my mind, when I should have just been focussed on the match.
“But the run in the World did give me a lot of belief, and I know now that I am good enough to go deep in tournaments. There might have been more expected of me this season, but personally I don’t think about that kind of thing. I work a lot with Terry Griffiths and he helps me to just play without pressure. If I wasn’t working with Terry I don’t think I could have made that clearance against Judd.
“The experience of playing well at the Crucible has helped my confidence. That’s where I want to be, playing in the big tournaments regularly. I don’t want it to be a one-off.”