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Ryan Day and Stephen Maguire Book Crucible Spots

Highly-fancied duo Ryan Day and Stephen Maguire safely negotiated their final World Snooker Championship qualifying round encounters on Wednesday at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Ryan Day Crucible
Day, ranked no.17, just missed out on an automatic berth. Photo credit: Monique Limbos.

Former world champion Peter Ebdon won the first three frames of the second session with Day to restore parity in their contest but the Welshman, twice a ranking event winner this season, dug deep and reeled off the last four frames for a 10-6 success.

Maguire was also strongly tested for a period as Hossein Vafaei, seeking to become the first Iranian player to qualify for the Crucible, fought back from 7-3 down to level with the Scot.

However, like Day, the former semi-finalist was able to fend off the challenge by taking the final three frames for a 10-7 triumph.

The majority of the other matches that concluded in the evening session were one-sided affairs, with the exception of Jimmy Robertson’s 10-7 defeat of Michael White.

White, the Paul Hunter Classic champion, would have been the marginal favourite going into the bout but Robertson came from 7-6 down to reach the venue stages for the third time in four years.

While White disappointingly bowed out, it was a significantly better time for his fellow Welshman Jamie Jones after the former quarter-finalist secured an incredible whitewash win against Liang Wenbo.

Liang had been in superb form in the earlier rounds, compiling a 147 break and almost repeating the feat in the same match, but was nowhere to be seen as Jones rattled off one frame winning contribution after another to record a stunning scoreline.

Xiao Guodong and Lyu Haotian ensured that it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Chinese contingent, though, by becoming the only two players from China to join Ding Junhui in the draw this year following comprehensive victories against Adam Duffy and Rory McLeod respectively.

For Lyu, the 20 year-old will be the youngest man in Thursday’s first round draw and he’ll also be one of four competitors who will be making their maiden appearances in the tournament.

Lyu also looks set to end the season in the top 64 in the world rankings, a brilliant achievement considering this is only the first campaign of his two-year tour card.

Liam Highfield will be another debutant after the 27 year-old comfortably outplayed Daniel Wells with a 10-4 win while fellow Englishman Jack Lisowski, potentially one of the most dangerous qualifiers this year, hammered veteran Alan McManus 10-3.

Earlier in the day, the likes of Matthew Stevens, Graeme Dott, and Ricky Walden rubberstamped their return to snooker’s mecca.

Overall, Judgement Day didn’t really deliver quite as much drama as in previous years with none of the matches in the final qualifying round requiring a decider, but there was still tension in abundance and, after a gruelling eight days, the 16 qualifiers are now known.

Attention will immediately turn to the draw on Thursday morning, which will be undertaken with the help of 1986 world champion Joe Johnson at 10am.

We wait eagerly to see which players will be paired together.

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