Today’s final will be competed between Judd Trump and Joe Perry … as I expected, but it’s not what I would have loved to see. I would have loved a Jack Lisowski v Hossein Vafaei final.
There was a poll yesterday on twitter about the expected Final’s line-up and I opted for Trump v Perry but I wasn’t in the majority. Indeed the majority expected a Trump v Lisowski final … they probably didn’t watch Joe this week then. Judd also wished to face Jack in the Final … of course he would: he has a 100% record against him in finals and the last two were totally one-sided.
Anyway … here is how the semi-finals unfolded
Trump Fightback Floors Vafaei
Judd Trump staged a superb fightback to beat Hossein Vafaei 6-5 and reach his first BetVictor Welsh Open final since 2017.
The Ace in the Pack is seeking a maiden Welsh Open title tomorrow when he will face either Jack Lisowski or Joe Perry over the best of 17 frames, with the Ray Reardon Trophy on the line.
Bristiolian Trump’s appearance in the 2017 showpiece saw him lose a nerve shredding encounter with Stuart Bingham 9-8. The 22-time ranking event winner will be hoping to get himself over the line tomorrow and earn his first ranking title of the current campaign.
Trump’s run to the final this week boosts his hopes of earning a place at the Tour Championship. Only the best eight players on this season’s one-year list earn a place at the prestigious event. Trump arrived at the ICC Wales in 17thspot, but he would move into the top eight if he were to win tomorrow.
Vafaei will be bitterly disappointed to surrender a 5-3 advantage this afternoon. However, reaching the semis enhances an impressive few weeks for the Iranian. He became the first player from his country to lift ranking silverware at the recent BetVictor Shoot Out.
Breaks of 94 and 85 helped Vafaei into a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval this afternoon. Trump claimed the fifth when play got back underway, before restoring parity at 3-3 by winning the sixth on the black.
From there Vafaei made the first move for the line with two on the bounce to move 5-3 ahead. However, following an afternoon in which he toiled for long periods, Trump summoned his best just when required.
The 2019 World Champion conjured runs of 66 and 121 to force a decider, which he controlled to earn a place in the title match.
Trump said: “I think he will be disappointed. He was the better player and his safety was brilliant. Every time I came to the table I seemed to be in trouble and his potting was better than mine. I don’t know how I got through that one in the end. I just saved my best until last.
“It has been a season where I haven’t come from behind and won those games. When I did go 5-3 down I told myself in my chair that the events I have won haven’t been plain sailing. I tried to remember that and stay as positive as possible.
“It was an incredible atmosphere. Just before the final frame started it felt like a smaller version of the Masters. Every time you go to a new venue you never are sure what the crowd will be like. The turnout for every round has been unbelievable. Whether it is early games or late games they are there supporting and really getting behind the players.”
Hossein will indeed be disappointed. He should have won that match but finals are still new territory for him and hopefully he will learn from this. He won the shoot-out of course, but this was something else, this was a longer match, with an unfolding story and the psychology is completely different.
Perry Clinches Ranking Final Return
Joe Perry is through to a ranking event final for the first time in almost four years, after holding off a Jack Lisowski fightback to win 6-5 and reach the title match at the BetVictor Welsh Open.
Tomorrow’s showpiece clash will see 2015 Players Champion Perry take on 2019 World Champion Judd Trump over 17 frames for the Ray Reardon Trophy and a top prize of £70,000.
Perry is in search of his second piece of ranking silverware, in what will be his first ever ranking final on UK soil. The Gentleman’s last appearance in a final came at the 2018 European Masters in Belgium, where he was defeated 9-6 by Jimmy Robertson.
To this point, Cambridge cueman Perry has struggled with his form throughout this season and has slipped to 42nd position in the world rankings.
However, he has dramatically turned that around in this event and has negotiated a treacherous path to the final. Perry has defeated David Gilbert, Cao Yupeng, Mark Allen, Kyren Wilson, Ricky Walden and Lisowski thus far.
Defeat will be a bitter pill to swallow for 30-year-old Lisowski, who came through a fiercely contested clash with Ali Carter 5-4 yesterday to make the last four. However, he can take solace from a first semi-final appearance in what has otherwise been a disappointing season so far.
The match began with a fragmented first frame which stretched 29 minutes, until eventually going the way of Perry. He solidified his position by taking the following two, before Lisowski claimed the fourth to head into the mid-session with Perry leading 3-1.
When play got back underway, Lisowski pulled within one thanks to a contribution of 69, but Perry restored his two frame cushion with 64 in the sixth to lead 4-2.
Lisowski refused to wilt and a break of 69 then pulled him back within a frame at 4-3. However, it was Perry who claimed the eighth to move one from victory.
Perry had the first chance in the next to get himself over the line, but a missed black off the spot saw him break down on 15. Lisowski ruthlessly stepped up and hammered home a run of 71 to make it 5-4. It was soon 5-5 when a stunning 122 break restored parity and forced a final frame.
Despite Lisowski carrying the momentum, 47-year-old Perry halted him in his tracks and controlled the decider to earn his place in the final. Afterwards, Perry admitted to feeling ill throughout the match and signalled his relief at still managing to clinch the win.
Perry said: “I love playing Jack Lisowski, I enjoy the moment, the challenge and watching him play. I just couldn’t enjoy it tonight because I didn’t feel right. My head was hurting, my eyes were stinging and when I looked down the cue my eyes couldn’t focus on what they should have been.
“I put myself in the same bracket as people like Mark Davis and Mark King. We’ve been around a long time, haven’t won barely anything but we have been at the top of the game for the best part of 30 years. We are putting the work in, but we aren’t working to get better as our game is what it is. It just goes to show that you have to practise though. You can’t just turn up and play, the tour is so tough from top to bottom. I knew that, but I didn’t do anything about it. I have been for the last two or three months.
“I’d love to add Judd to the list of people I have beaten this week. I have to work hard mentally to put today out of my head. It was a poor performance, Jack did come back at me but I blagged my way through. I need to put that to one side and focus on the other matches. I was focussed in them and the other great players I was against played quite well. I had to be at my best to beat them and I was. I have to bring that out tomorrow.”
I’m glad for Joe who had been the best player in the tournament up to the SF stage. It would have been cruel if he had been defeated by illness yesterday. Hopefully he will be fully fit today.
But I love Jack too and the current circumstances must be difficult for him: indeed his grandfather was a Ukrainian displaced person who settled in England at the end of World War II. Jack was sporting and Ukrainian flag on his shirt yesterday.