06 May 2024

Kyren Wilson survives Jak Jones fightback to win world snooker title at Crucible

06 May 2024

Kyren Wilson survived a stirring fightback from qualifier Jak Jones to win the world snooker title for the first time at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Wilson struggled to contain his emotions as he wrapped up an 18-14 triumph over Jones, who fought valiantly after losing the first seven frames of the final, and reeled off three frames in a row from 17-11 to give himself some hope of an improbable revival.

Victory sealed a timely return to form for Wilson, who had arrived for his 10th tilt at the title on the back of his worst campaign in a decade, a solitary semi-final at the German Masters put into perspective by illness and injury afflicting his young family.

But he was made to work overtime by Jones, who looked down and out after losing the first seven frames, but staged a remarkable comeback and even threatened a maximum in the 30th frame before running aground after potting the first 12 reds and blacks.

Trailing by five frames upon Monday’s resumption, Jones had twice clawed his way back to a three-frame deficit, but was unable to go further and Wilson restored his healthy advantage for the start of the final session.

Wilson moved two away from the title by winning the first frame of the evening, but Jones served a timely reminder that he was up for the fight when he responded with his first century of the final to reduce the deficit to 16-11.

A dramatic 28th frame saw Jones, who sunk seeds Zhang Anda and Judd Trump on his marathon route to the final, clear the colours to force a re-spotted black, only for Wilson to move one frame away with an audacious pot off three cushions.

But Jones proved far from beaten, ensuring a mid-session interval by taking the next with a break of 67, followed by his maximum bid then a flamboyant clearance to pink in the next to leave Wilson with plenty to think about.

The 32-year-old held himself together in the end but it was some revival from Jones, whose first target upon the start of the final day had been simply to avoid the indignity of becoming only the third player, after Jimmy White in 1993 and John Parrott in 1989, to lose the world final with a session to spare.

He managed that and more, breaks of 64 and 59 giving him the first two frames of the day to claw back to 11-8, and he looked a different player to the one who had confessed he was “knackered” after his tumultuous Sunday start.

But Jones’ hopes of making further inroads were curtailed by Wilson, who had looked out of sorts in the early stages, but unearthed breaks of 50 and 83 to reach the mid-session interval having restored his five-frame overnight advantage at 13-8.

In a see-saw battle, Jones responded with a break of 90, his highest of the final so far, to haul back another frame, then capitalised when Wilson missed a red to middle with a coolly taken break of 67, which included a five-minute delay when a member of the audience was taken ill.

Wilson hit back again, winning a pivotal final frame of the afternoon session when Jones jawed a yellow, meaning all the Welshman’s good work had essentially come to nothing, and preserving an advantage that – for all Jones’ admirable spirit – he was never quite likely to relinquish.

Pointing to his young son Bailey, dressed in waistcoat and bow tie, a relieved Wilson said at the presentation ceremony: “Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if I’d have lost and Bailey’s dressed like that?

“Firstly I’d like to say sorry to Jak for that outburst (his celebration after a pot), but it does mean so much to all of us.

“Mum and dad, I think they’re on their way down. They remortgaged, sacrificed their whole lives to get me here, my brother, Barry, Carla, Chris, Peter, the list goes on. It’s a massive team effort.

“On YouTube, one of the worst things is me crying at the Masters, this is going to be so much worse. I said I’d never do it again but I just couldn’t help it.

“(Jones) was so tough. I don’t think there are any people left in Wales, the amount they were cheering him on. It made it a fantastic atmosphere, every credit to those guys.

“Me and Jak have come through the junior ranks. This is Jak’s first final, let alone a world final, so he’s conducted himself in an amazing fashion and I’m sure he’ll be back.”

About a month ago I was in my first qualifying match. It's been a long month but I'm happy with it.

Jones added on BBC Two: “Congratulations to Kyren and his family, they deserve it. If anyone deserves it, he does, so congratulations to them.

“It’s been an unbelievable tournament for me. About a month ago I was in my first qualifying match. It’s been a long month but I’m happy with it.

“I wouldn’t say (I came in) with a lot of hope. I just thought if I try my best, basically, see what happens. But when you’re playing someone as solid as Kyren, with such a good all-round game, it’s going to be hard to come back from a deficit like that so it wasn’t to be.”

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