Wilson Jones final
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Kyren Wilson and Jak Jones to make final bid for Crucible glory

One strong final push separates Kyren Wilson or Jak Jones from triumphing at the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre.

Monday represents the last day of a tournament that began almost a month ago at the qualifying competition in Sheffield.

Jones, of course, was a participant in those preliminary rounds at the English Institute of Sport.

The Welshman beat Jamie Clarke and Zhou Yuelong to seal a second successive spot in the main draw, having reached the quarter-finals on his debut a year ago.

A series of upset victories followed for the world number 44 over Zhang Anda, Si Jiahui, Judd Trump, and Stuart Bingham.

In that magnificent run, becoming only the ninth unseeded qualifier to go all the way to the World Championship final, Jones has arguably never produced his highest standard.

His pot success rate has often languished in the mid-80s percentile, and it has frequently been lower than the opponents he has faced en route to the last two.

Yet what Jones has lacked in the break building department, he has made up for – and then some – in the tactical side of the game.

The 30 year-old’s grinding style of play has evoked old-school memories of the likes of countryman Terry Griffiths and the Grinder himself, Cliff Thorburn.

Jones has developed a handy knack of making his opponents play badly, and he labelled his rivals “pathetic” for the continuous jibes aimed towards his style of play.

After briefly becoming overawed by the enormity of the occasion in his maiden World Snooker Championship final on Sunday, all of those attributes surfaced again.

When Jones lost the opening seven frames of the title-deciding showdown on Sunday, he would have been forgiven for half throwing in the towel.

But after taking the last frame of the first session to sympathetic applause from the crowd, Jones won the second period of play to reduce the gap to just five frames overnight.

Jones, of course, could have been as near as just three frames behind, but Wilson managed to pinch the last frame of the session on the final black in dramatic circumstances.

For large periods of the final’s opening day, the latter had dominated the battle as he lived up to his billing as the overwhelming favourite.

By storming to a 7-0 lead with six frame-winning contributions including a brace of centuries, Wilson firmly established himself as the champion elect.

The Kettering cueist, who has for years talked up his game as being among the best in the world, has suffered numerous near misses in the biggest tournaments on the calendar.

Although a five-time ranking event winner, the 32 year-old has been denied prestigious titles in finals of the 2020 World Championship and the 2018 Masters.

Painful defeats have also been handed out to Wilson at Champion of Champions and Tour Championship finals, leaving mental scars to overcome.

The Englishman, who would rise to a career-high ranking of number three in the world with victory on Monday, seemed like a competitor intent on not letting this kind of monumental opportunity slip from his grasp again.

The turnaround in the 17th frame, when Wilson got the snooker he required before potting the colours to lead 11-6, potentially underlined a newly acquired mettle on the sport’s biggest stage.

Needing just seven more frames to the daunting dozen that Jones still requires, the destiny of this year’s trophy is certainly in Wilson’s hands.

But there is no bigger pressure cooker than that of the Crucible Theatre on a final Monday of a World Snooker Championship.

The player who stands up to the ultimate test will realise a career-long dream of obtaining the sport’s most distinguished prize.

2024 World Snooker Championship Draw

Round 1 (bo19)

Luca Brecel (1) 9-10 David Gilbert
Robert Milkins (16) 10-9 Pang Junxu
Ali Carter (9) 7-10 Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy (8) 10-5 Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (5) 6-10 Joe O’Connor
Kyren Wilson (12) 10-1 Dominic Dale
John Higgins (13) 10-6 Jamie Jones
Mark Allen (4) 10-6 Robbie Williams

Judd Trump (3) 10-5 Hossein Vafaei
Tom Ford (14) 10-6 Ricky Walden
Zhang Anda (11) 4-10 Jak Jones
Mark Williams (6) 9-10 Si Jiahui

Ding Junhui (7) 9-10 Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson (10) 5-10 Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (15) 8-10 Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) 10-1 Jackson Page

Round 2 (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-4 Robert Milkins (16)
Stephen Maguire 13-9 Shaun Murphy (8)

Joe O’Connor 6-13 Kyren Wilson (12)
John Higgins (13) 13-12 Mark Allen (4)

Judd Trump (3) 13-7 Tom Ford (14)
Jak Jones 13-9 Si Jiahui

Jack Lisowski 11-13 Stuart Bingham
Ryan Day 7-13 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-8 Stephen Maguire
Kyren Wilson (12) 13-8 John Higgins (13)

Judd Trump (3) 9-13 Jak Jones
Stuart Bingham 13-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Semi-Finals (bo33)

David Gilbert 11-17 Kyren Wilson (12)
Jak Jones 17-12 Stuart Bingham

Final (bo35)

Kyren Wilson (12) 18-14 Jak Jones

Click here for the latest live scores and session times.

Featured photo credit: WST

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