Tomorrow the Final will be contested between Judd Trump and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Here is how we got there (reports by Worldsnooker)
Wilson had several match-winning chances in the closing stages but couldn’t take advantage and was beaten to the finish line by Thailand’s 34-year-old Un-Nooh, who will face Judd Trump or John Higgins in Sunday’s final.
Un-Nooh’s only previous ranking final was the one-frame Shoot Out earlier this year, when he beat Michael Holt. He is also a former Six Red World Champion, but tomorrow’s match will be the biggest of his career by far. The world number 37 is already guaranteed his best ever pay day of £75,000, and that will be doubled if he takes the trophy.
In a surprisingly scrappy match between two attacking players, world number nine Wilson took the first three frames despite a top break of just 44. Un-Nooh pulled one back then Wilson nicked the fifth by clearing the colours to go 4-1 up.
Kettering’s Wilson led 42-0 in the next only for Un-Nooh to make a 74 clearance. The next two were shared to leave the score at 5-3, then Un-Nooh took the ninth by clearing the colours, and made a 67 in winning the tenth for 5-5.
Three-time ranking event winner Wilson had first clear chance in the decider and made 38 before missing a straight-forward red. Un-Nooh replied with 61 to give himself the advantage. It came down to the colours and Wilson took the yellow but then missed the green to a top corner, trying to screw back for position. Un-Nooh cleared from green to pink for victory.
“I feel great,” said Un-Nooh. “Before the match I knew I was the under-dog because Kyren is better than me. He’s a big name and he’s in the top ten in the world. But he missed a lot of balls today. When I was 4-1 down my head was gone, but I was still concentrating frame by frame. I did well.
“This is very different to the Shoot Out, that event is only one frame and depends on destiny. This event is long frames and big money. Playing in China is similar to playing in Thailand for me, I am happy here.
“If I play Judd Trump tomorrow the game will be quick, if it’s John Higgins it will be slower. Let’s see what happens. I prefer to play Judd and many Thai people want me to play him, because he beat me at the Crucible (10-9 in the first round). It would be a good game.
“I won’t sleep tonight and I can’t eat. Before the game today I couldn’t eat. I have lost weight this week. When I get to the semis and the final it’s exciting and I can only sleep and eat a little bit.”
Wilson said: “I’m gutted about my performance, I was so poor. Thepchaiya was as well – by his very good standards – so I’m gutted I couldn’t make the most of that. He will have to sharpen up and play a lot better to have any chance in the final. He’s a lovely guy and I wish him all the best. Maybe I peaked a bit too early in this event. I tried my heart out today but it was one of my worst ever performances.”
It wasn’t a great match, quality wise. I may be wrong but my feeling was that Kyren was feeling the pressure out there: after all, he was the one with the expectations on his shoulders. Although I’m sure that Thepchaiya had it own share as well, with the hopes of his country firmly on him. But somehow i felt like Thepchaiya was better as putting mistakes behind him and refocus.
Trump was hauled back from 5-2 to 5-5 but got the better of a tense deciding frame. He will faceThepchaiya Un-Nooh in Sunday’s final, with first to ten frames to take the trophy and top prize of £150,000.
Bristol’s Trump is aiming for his sixth title within the past year, having won the Northern Ireland Open, the Masters, World Grand Prix, World Championship and International Championship. The 30-year-old will be competing in his 22nd ranking final and aiming for his 13th title.
Today’s match was a repeat of the Crucible final in May which Trump won 18-9, and again he came out on top, though he was pushed all the way by four-time World Champion Higgins.
A scrappy opening frame went Trump’s way, then Higgins took two in a row with top breaks of 50 and 52 to lead 2-1. Trump then took control, winning four frames in a row with a top break of 99 to lead 5-2.
Higgins made an 89 clearance in frame eight to reduce his deficit. The ninth came down to the colours, and a safety error from Trump on the yellow gave his opponent the chance to make it 5-4. Trump made 59 in the next before running out of position, and Higgins clawed his way back into it, eventually clearing from green to pink for 5-5.
Higgins potted the first red of the decider but missed a tricky black along the top cushion. Trump made 55 before playing safe, then Higgins had a chance to counter but made just 15 before missing the pink to a centre pocket. World number one Trump added the points he needed to book his final spot.
“It was very dramatic,” said Trump. “I thought I was going to lose. I was getting chances but messing them up because I was worried about John coming back at me. When you play him you’re always on edge, he puts extra pressure on you. In the end I did well to get over the line. I made a good break in the last frame and then he missed quite an easy pink. It’s nice to know he is human.
“I haven’t played great all week. In spells I have been ok, but nowhere near my best. I have had to dig in which is pleasing.
“Thepchaiya is the most exciting player in the game, he has even overtaken Ronnie O’Sullivan. A lot of other players think he’s the best to watch and I agree with that. He is free-flowing and gets on with the game. We need more people like that in snooker. He plays a bit like I did five or ten years ago, he hasn’t got a care in the world, he goes for his shots and if they go in then he’s unbeatable. It should be a good final for the fans, though hopefully I can win a bit more easily.”
Scotland’s Higgins said: “It wasn’t great in terms of standard but it still had the drama that we always seem to produce. This time he got me at the finish line. I felt good at 5-5 because I was timing the ball better. I’m disappointed to miss the pink. It would have been difficult to clear up but I could have got myself back into the frame. I threw a quick one in and hit it too hard. I was in two minds whether to hold the pink spot or screw back a bit, and in the end I played nothing.
“I have to take the positives this week because I only had a couple of days practice with my new cue and in the end to push Judd to 6-5 in the semis gives me some confidence for the rest of the season. Today was the worst I have played this week but at least I’m heading in the right direction.”
It seems to me that Judd still has a problem with Ronnie…. Thepchaiya is exciting to watch, and I like to watch him, but he is Thepachaya, not Ronnie. They don’t play the same game, and they certainly don’t have similar personalities. Why compare the two? Also, having a family to support, and the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, I very much doubt that he hasn’t a care in the world.
I would LOVE to see Theppy lift that trophy tomorrow. I know it’s unlikely but … you never know.