Judgement Day is always packed full of nerves, with precious places at the World Snooker Championships up for grabs. With the tournament just days away, the second batch of eight matches was the last chance saloon for players to get themselves into the draw.
At this stage, matches are taken to a best of 19 frames format, so former world champion Graeme Dott knew he had left himself with work to do when he found himself 6-3 down to Jamie Clarke after the morning session.
After the break, Clarke extended his advantage to 8-4, before Dott won four frames on the bounce to level things up. Clarke took the next, knowing he was just one frame away from progressing. It came down to the final ball, with both players executing excellent safety shots on the black, before Clarke completed the victory by sinking a treble shot off the cushions. He fell to his knees in celebration, before shaking hands with a clearly frustrated Dott.
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David Gilbert was first through from the remaining ties, with the Championship League winner thrashing Anthony Hamilton 10-3. It’s a continuation of good recent form, matched with some fortune too, after he potted what was described as the “fluke of the century” during the previous round of qualifying.
Look ahead to the competition draw, Gilbert said, “I hear all these players coming through qualifying saying they want to play Ronnie O’Sullivan or Judd Trump at the Crucible and all this malarkey. I want to avoid Ronnie, I want to avoid Judd, I want to avoid Mark Selby and I want to avoid Neil Robertson. They are the big four.”
Lei Peifan and Hossein Vafaei went toe-to-toe in an incredible match, which saw the pair go to a one-frame shootout, having been level at 9-9 after eighteen frames. It was Vafaei who progressed, with the Iranian keeping his composure to fight back from a deficit in the decider to clear the table under huge pressure.
A titanic battle between Ali Carter and Matthew Stevens saw Stevens recover from 4-0 down to book his place in the Worlds. After Carter’s early dominance, Stevens battled back to lead 6-5. However, Carter put himself back in control by taking three frames in a row. Stevens had the last word, though, winning four successive frames to take a 10-8 win.
Jackson Page secured his Crucible debut with a 10-6 win against David Grace, while three clinical frames in a row from Chris Wakelin took him into the main draw with a 10-7 win over Jimmy Robertson.
Liam Highfield - who was trailing after the morning session - recovered to beat Yuan SiJun 10-7 and Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham qualified at the expense of Gibraltar Open champion Robert Milkins.
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