David Gilbert defeated Kyren Wilson 13-8 to secure his place in the one-table semi-finals at the Betfred World Championship.
Tamworth’s Gilbert has burst to prominence this season. He’s been recognised as a player with vast potential for several years, without completely fulfilling it. This campaign has seen Gilbert earn a place in the world’s top 16 for the first time. He made finals at the Yushan World Open and German Masters, but was runner-up on both occasions to Mark Williams and today’s opponent Wilson respectively.
World number 16 Gilbert arrived at the Crucible as a seed for the first time this year. Wins over Joe Perry and defending champion Mark Williams saw him reach the last eight. Now today’s defeat of Wilson guarantees that he will pick up at least £100,000 for making the semi-finals, which will be the biggest payday of his career. That tops the £75,000 he earned for appearing in the World Open final earlier in the season.
Wilson has now reached the Crucible quarter-finals for the last four years consecutively. However, his only run beyond the last eight came 12 months ago, when he lost out 17-13 against John Higgins in the semi-finals.
The Warrior won two ranking titles in a single season for the first time this term, having picked up silverware at the Paul Hunter Classic and German Masters. He will have to wait at least another year to pick up a first world title.
Gilbert came into today’s session with a commanding 10-6 advantage. That left Wilson with a mountain to climb to get back into the match, although he did pick up the first frame this afternoon to close within three frames at 10-7.
They then traded frames and moved to 11-8, before a Gilbert delivered a hammer blow. Wilson broke down on a contribution of 43 and Gilbert ruthlessly stepped in with a break of 60 to steal the frame and lead 12-8 at the mid-session interval. He fired in a break of 63 when play resumed and clinched his victory by a 13-8 scoreline.
Gilbert will now face either John Higgins or Neil Robertson in the semi-finals for the right to compete in snooker’s biggest match.
“It is fantastic. Who’d have thought I’d ever end up in the one-table setup at the Crucible? Certainly not me. I’m over the moon,” said Gilbert. “It doesn’t matter who I play. If Neil Robertson comes through, him and Mark Selby are two of my favourite players, so it would be great to play him out there. He’s in great form and probably the tournament favourite. I’m under no illusions to it all, they are going to need to have to have an off day and I’m going to need to play great to get through.
“It’s a real buzz, money can’t buy that. Today I was a bit tense and probably rightly so. I just need to remember to enjoy it in the semi-finals, get my head down and go for it.
“These opportunities don’t come around very often for someone like me. It’s nice to know my bills are going to get paid for the rest of the year and my Mrs is going to be off my back with £100,000 guaranteed. However, I need to make the most of this chance.”
Wilson said: “From my point of view the match was absolutely terrible. I was just shocking from the off. I don’t know how I managed to get out of the first session at 4-4. I should have kicked on from there and regrouped. Dave obviously sensed that I was struggling and kicked on in the second session himself.”
On the other table Judd Trump remains on course for a semi-final spot after emerging with a 11-5 lead over Stephen Maguire.
Trump had led 7-1 after the first session and looked in position for a potential win with a session to spare after taking the first two frames today.
Maguire won four of the next five frames, with a top score of 110, to remain in contention at 10-5. Masters champion Trump finished the session strongly, firing in a break of 82 to take the final frame. He requires just two more to progress when they resume this evening at 7pm.