GLOUCESTER’S Michael Wasley admits he has already taken a shine to The Crucible after staging one of the biggest upsets in World Championship history against red-hot favourite Ding Junhui.
Drama seems to follow world number 73 Wasley – only last week did he beat fellow Gloucester potter Robert Milkins on a re-spotted black to earn a debut at the Crucible.
But his effort last night against Junhui, who was gunning for a season-record six major ranking titles, overshadowed every achievement in the 24-year-old’s career so far.
Heading into the second session 6-3 down, Wasley battled back to force the match into a 19th-frame decider as the clock approached midnight.
And a final frame fitting of such an epic contest, both played cat and mouse across the table in a series of excellent safety shots after Wasley’s opening break
Sensationally, Wasley then fluked the final red off the bottom cushion before clearing the colours up to the blue – but missed the pink to allow Junhui a way back in with a snooker.
The Chinese nestled the cue ball perfectly behind the black three times but Wasley was equal to him on every occasion.
And Junhui failed on the fourth time of trying, leaving Wasley with a routine pink as the Crucible rose for a standing ovation.
Wasley said: “I feel great, I managed to hold my nerve in the end. I was really nervous but I managed to put that to the back of my mind, I knew I had a match to win and it was in my hands. I’m just glad I held it together.
“Coming out playing one of the favourites of the tournament and someone who’s had such a great season and dominated, I was really pleased to be 9-9 each and in with a chance to win.
“I wouldn’t be playing the sport if I didn’t think I could beat anybody and I felt like I adapted to The Crucible straight away – I could just get down to business and onto the match then.”
Wasley will now face either Mark Davis or Stroud-based Dominic Dale in the second round on Saturday – and he insists he is not finished yet.
“It will take a good night’s sleep to get over it,” he added. “The crowd were great, they really brought me along and it’s great playing in front of them performing – I just want to do it all again.”
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