Michael Wasley will face world number three Ding Junhui in his debut at the World Snooker Championship next week after he beat fellow Gloucester player Robert Milkins last night, writes Mark Rawlinson.
Wasley, who had already had to win three matches over the past week at the qualifying event at Ponds Forge in Sheffield, will now play at the famed Crucible Theatre in the main event next week.
The victory was undoubtedly the biggest win of his career although Wasley says he’d rather it had not come against Milkins, one of his closest friends on the snooker circuit.
“I’ve grown up playing with Rob for years so it was really hard to play against him,” said Wasley. “Neither of us wanted to lose so it’s just a shame there had to be a loser.
“But on the upside I’ll be playing at the Crucible next week. I went to watch Paul Hunter play many years ago and my friend Judd Trump when he qualified in 2006 against Shaun Murphy but I’m just so happy to be playing there now instead of watching.
“I’ve played at a few main venues this year at the Germans Masters and the Welsh Open but it’ll have nothing on the Crucible; I know how tight it is for space there.”
The victory itself over Milkins in the final qualifying round couldn’t have been more dramatic, with Wasley snatching the win on the very last ball.
With the frame scores locked at 9-9, he potted a tricky blue and pink and then the black to tie the deciding frame score at 64-all. In this situation, the black ball returns to the table and whoever pots it first, wins.
Wasley was left with a tricky shot on the final black, which was about 6ft away from the pocket, however he kept his nerve to sink the black to seal the win.
“I thought if I’ve got any shot on the black then I’m going for it,” he said. “That was the biggest match of my career and it went down to a re-spotted black, so it couldn’t have been any closer.
“At 9-8 up I was a bit wobbly there but I managed to hold it together. I was a little but unlucky throughout a couple of the frames but I was delighted to pot such a good black in the end.
“I feel my form has been pretty good this season and have felt I’ve lost quite a few close matches. I feel like I’m playing well and felt I was due a run and what better way to finish the season than a run in the World Championships?”
The 24-year-old openly admitted that nerves could be his biggest obstacle ahead of his first World Championships experience next week but may turn to juggling to calm himself before his match.
Wasley can also complete a Rubik’s cube in under two minutes and believes little tricks such as these have helped him to keep focused in between his matches.
He said: “I like to set myself challenges in between snooker to keep the brain busy. I’ve learnt to juggle and I’m now trying to juggle with four balls instead of three, it’s just little gimmicky things that keeps my brain busy.
“I used to be able to do a Rubik’s cube in under two minutes but it’s a while since I’ve done that now because you forget the moves!
“It just takes your mind of things a bit. I’m going to be nervous before my first match there but it’s just part of the experience.”