Gary Wilson kept his tremendous run going at the Betfred World Championship, as he beat Ali Carter 13-9 to reach the semi-finals.
Giant-killer Wilson has already won six matches in the event, coming through three qualifying rounds before knocking out Luca Brecel, three-time champion Mark Selby and now two-time finalist Carter. Wallsend’s 33-year-old Wilson had never won a match at the Crucible before this year.
At 32nd in the world, Wilson is the fifth-lowest ranked player ever to reach the World Championship semi-finals. He will face Judd Trump or Stephen Maguire on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for a place in the final. Wilson is already guaranteed a career-biggest pay day of £100,000.
Back in 2004, at the age of 19, Wilson won the world under-21 title and was tipped for the top. He struggled to fulfil his talent in the early part of his career and had spells away from snooker, working in a frozen food factory and driving a taxi.
He returned to the pro tour in 2013 and has gradually climbed the ladder, notably reaching his first ranking final at the China Open in 2015 where he lost to Selby. Now the player nicknamed the Tyneside Terror is relishing the chance to show his break-building class on the biggest stage. In his three matches at the Crucible he has made seven centuries and 21 more breaks over 50.
Lowest ranked World Championship semi-finalists
Terry Griffiths: unranked, 1979
Shaun Murphy: 48th, 2005
Alan McManus: 41st, 1992
Andy Hicks: 33rd,1995
Gary Wilson: 32nd, 2019
Wilson led 9-7 going into the final session and started strong this morning with a break of 117 to extend his advantage. Carter hit back with 51 and 48 to take frame 18 and he added the next with 128 to close to 10-9.
In frame 20, Carter had first chance but ran out of position on 29. Wilson made 59 before missing the last red along a side cushion, and was lucky to snooker his opponent. From the chance that followed, Wilson potted the red to go 11-9 ahead.
Frame 21 was in the balance until Wilson knocked in an excellent long red to initiate a break of 45 which put him three up with four to play. Early in the next he potted nine reds with blacks before running out of position and playing safe. And when he crashed in another long red, the tie was over.
“I’ve got this far, so long may it continue. I just need to keep playing as well as I can. If a few things go my way and the shots I am struggling with stop, then you never know what could happen,” said an elated Wilson. “There were a couple of moments years ago, when I had dropped off the tour, and I was desperate to get back on just to scrape a living. Looking back at those times and comparing it to now is absolutely amazing. I’m over the moon and proud of myself.
“When I was really struggling to make it, I thought to myself about what job I would have to get. I had played snooker since I was eight years old. I put in the hours every day, missed school and missed nights out with my mates. I was beginning to wonder where my life was going. I’m happy that I can now make a living out of the sport.
“Deep down in your gut, you know if you can play the game well enough or not. You dream of achieving this sort of thing. I knew that even if I didn’t play to my full potential, I was good enough to make a living from snooker.”
Carter said: “I think Gary’s got to be the favourite to win it now, the way he’s playing. That has to be the performance of his life. I can’t understand how he hasn’t won anything. He’s made three or four centuries in the match, his safety was unbelievable, as was his long game. He potted nearly every ball he went for and when he did miss he got away with it.
“The ball run in the last session there was ridiculous. He had so much form it was unbelievable, but when you play well that happens. I think he had a game plan to go out and just go for everything.
“It was an amazing performance by Gary, you’ve got to take your hat off to him. I didn’t think he could play that well and I’m sure Selby didn’t think that in the last round either, but he did. Now it’s all eyes on him for the semi-finals. Good luck to him.”
On the other table four-time World Champion John Higgins dug deep to secure a 9-7 advantage against 2010 Crucible king Neil Robertson.
The pair were locked together at 4-4 following yesterday’s opening session. Australia’s Robertson got the better of the early stages this morning, composing breaks of 78 and 68 on his way to claiming three of the opening four frames to lead 7-5 at the mid-session.
However, Higgins turned on the heat when they returned. The tenacious 30-time ranking event winner summoned all of his Crucible experience to sweep up the remaining four frames. Breaks of 130 and 68 helped him on his way to earning his 9-7 lead.
They will return to play to a conclusion this evening from 7pm.