The First One Is Always Special

Wilson Reaches Maiden Crucible Semi

Kyren Wilson is through to the semi-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time after defeating Masters champion Mark Allen 13-6.

The showdown with Allen was a repeat of the 2018 Masters final, which took place at Alexandra Palace in January. On that occasion Wilson lost out 10-7, but he gained his revenge today in an emphatic style.

Kettering’s Wilson, 26, is now just two victories away from becoming the youngest World Champion since 2005 when Shaun Murphy lifted silverware at the Crucible as a 22-year-old.

The Warrior will fancy his chances of achieving that feat after progressing beyond the last eight at the third time of asking, having lost quarter-finals in 2016 and 2017.

Defeat for Allen ends his hopes of making a first semi-final appearance since 2009, when he lost out 17-13 in a tremendous battle with John Higgins.

Wilson came into this afternoon requiring just two frames for victory. A stunning performance yesterday evening saw him take seven of the eight frames to establish a commanding 11-5 advantage.

Northern Ireland’s Allen took the opening frame of the afternoon to close the gap and make it 11-6, but that did little to deter Wilson.

The Englishman fired in a break of 48 as he moved one from the win and a run of 53 in the next helped to wrap up a momentous victory.

Wilson will now face a semi-final against either four-time Crucible king John Higgins or eight-time ranking event winner Judd Trump, who Wilson defeated to lift his only ranking title to date at the 2015 Shanghai Masters.

Wilson said: “It’s a very special feeling. You dream of playing at the Crucible in the one table set up. It’s a personal goal I’ve now reached, so I’m very pleased and very excited to experience it.

“Mark told me to enjoy the one-table set up, play well and that he hopes I win it. It was very nice of him. He came into my dressing room straight after and wished me well, which shows the class of the guy.

“I’ve always believed I could win this tournament. I feel like every year I come here I’ve got stronger. I was little bit like a rabbit in the headlights in my very first year, which I’m sure many players were, but after the second year I realised how good it is playing here and I love it. It’ll be a new experience tomorrow in a brand-new arena, so I’m just going to enjoy the occasion. I’ve never played a match over 33 frames before, so it’s just going to be good fun.”

Afterwards Allen gave a frank assessment of his performance, saying: “I was rubbish really from start to finish. I never felt involved in the match in any way. I felt quite flat, and for the quarter finals of a World Championship it’s pretty embarrassing to say that. There was very little intensity there.

“It’s something that I’ve got to sit down with my coach Chris Henry and talk about. I never really got into that match mentally. It was like I was watching it from the outside looking in.

“I’m 32 years-old, but I’m still very inexperienced when it comes to World Championship snooker and those long matches. I still have lots to learn, it’s been seven years since I was last in the quarter finals. If I can keep knocking on the door and putting myself in those big matches year in year out, as the likes of Hawkins and Selby do on a regular basis, sooner or later the door will open.”

Mark Williams edged clear of Ali Carter to secure a 9-7 lead going into their concluding session, which takes place at 7pm this evening.

The Welshman claimed glory at the Crucible with victories in 2000 and 2003, but hasn’t touched silverware at the Theatre of Dreams since. He is aiming to return to the semi-final stage for the first time in seven years.

Williams came out of the blocks quickly this afternoon, making breaks of 114 and 54 to move 6-4 ahead. Carter hit back with a fine break of 85 to close the gap to one, but it was instantly restored to leave the score at 7-5 at the mid-session.

They then traded frames, before a gritty clearance of 50 from Carter allowed him to take frame 15 by just one point and pull within a frame at 8-7. However, Williams finished the session in style with a century break of 113 to ensure a two-frame advantage going into tonight.