David Grace made a remarkable fight back from 5-1 down to beat Martin Gould 6-5 and reach the semi-finals of the Betway UK Championship.
Grace, who had never previously been beyond the last 16 of a ranking event, won four matches to get to the quarter-finals in York but his run looked over tonight when he trailed 5-1. The Leeds cueman refused to lie down, though, and won five frames in a row to keep the dream alive.
World number 81 Grace is the lowest ranked player to reach the UK semi-finals since Alan McManus got to the last four in 1990 when unranked on his debut pro season. Tomorrow afternoon Grace faces Liang Wenbo for a place in the final, and he is already guaranteed his biggest pay day of £30,000.
After sharing the first two frames, Londoner Gould appeared to be cruising to victory as he won four in a row with top breaks of 125, 127 and 72. He had chances to finish it in the next two frames, but Grace won the seventh with a 50 clearance and the eighth after Gould was unlucky to go in-off the final brown. Gathering momentum, 30-year-old Grace won two scrappy frames for 5-5.
Runs of 25 and 36 gave Grace a commanding lead in the decider but he wobbled the match-ball red in the jaws of a baulk corner. Gould’s attempted clearance ended when he missed a tough last red, though he gained 28 points in fouls after laying a tough snooker. Referee Terry Camilleri eventually elected not to call foul and a miss after Grace missed the red by a whisker. Gould later potted the red to draw within two points but missed a thin cut on the black to a centre pocket, and Grace held his nerve to clear from yellow to pink.
“I’m in absolute shock, I can’t believe I turned the match around,” said Grace. “At 5-1 down I couldn’t see any way back into it. I just wanted to make him win it rather than hand it to him. And I know that the last frame is always the hardest to win. Fair play to Martin because he didn’t question the referee’s decision in the last frame, when a lot of players would.
“I always knew deep down that I could do this, but you have to produce it out there.”
Gould added: “After the in-off at 5-2 it seemed like one of those matches where nothing was going my way. I’m gutted to get so close to the semis of the UK and lose. David played some great stuff from 5-1 and I faltered. I respect the referee’s decision in the decider.”
World number one Mark Selby had booked his semi spot an hour and a half earlier with a convincing 6-1 win over Matthew Selt. He now meets Neil Robertson tomorrow evening in a repeat of the 2013 final, which Robertson won 10-7.
After winning a 46-minute opening frame on the pink, Selby made a 63 to go 2-0 up. Selt, bidding to reach his first ranking semi, pulled one back with an 83 and had chances in frame four but couldn’t take them and Selby won it by clearing from the last red. The Leicester cueman, who won this title in 2012, sailed through the last three frames with breaks of 61, 62 and 72.
“I thought I played well in patches,” said Selby. “I can’t remember missing anything easy. The fourth frame was key as it probably should have gone 2-2. I managed to nick that frame which was a turning point. Matt’s a great player who’s moved up the rankings in the last 18 months – he’s been one of the form players on the tour.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Selby added: “Neil’s been playing the best in the tournament so far. It will be tough but I’m looking forward to it and I’ll relish it as always. When I get chances against him I need to score and my safety needs to be good, because I don’t think he has any weaknesses.”