Kyren Wilson became the second man to scrape into the Masters quarter-finals on Wednesday – as he survived a brave fightback from former champion Stuart Bingham to edge through 6-5 in a late-night thriller at Alexandra Palace to tee up a mouth-watering Friday quarter-final against Judd Trump.
World No2 Trump, the 2019 winner in north London, was also taken to the wire by Mark Allen earlier in the day – and more on that clash shortly. But the victory over Bingham laid out all of The Warrior’s best qualities for the spectators in the building and the watching TV millions to see – an unquenchable spirit, steely determination, huge bottle and an almost unmatched will to win.
Kettering’s Wilson, who lost in the Masters final to Mark Allen in 2018, led 4-1 against Bingham and progress looked a formality at that stage. But after sportingly calling a foul on himself on the last red of the sixth frame, the whole momentum shifted and 2020 winner Bingham - helped by superb breaks of 132 and 139 – drew level at 4-4 and then 5-5 to force the decider.
World No5 Wilson, 30, had previously lost to Bingham at the Masters with the same 4-1 lead. He admitted: “I was in complete control when I feathered the white at 4-1 on that last red, it was a big turning point in the match and Stuart sensed that and managed to pinch that one before making a couple of centuries and make a good game of it. So I was proud to hold myself together and take out a really nasty clearance at the end.”
A devastated Bingham said: “I am absolutely gutted. The match had everything and it was great to be involved in. I had my chance in the decider and missed an easy pink in the middle. That is what it comes down to. But I am gutted because I felt like I could have had another nice run.”
Next up for Wilson is Trump, very much the man in form for the last two years and primarily denied the No1 spot to Mark Selby because of the very top-heavy first prize at the World Championship last May, and also the disappearance of some China events on the calendar won by him before the pandemic, leaving the 32-year-old unable to defend that money.
Wilson, looking ahead to the match on Friday, said: “It is massive to come into this match after surviving such a close one in the first round. Part of you thinks ‘I could be out’, so it’s a small lifeline and a welcome extra confidence boost.
“It is always a game against Judd that I enjoy and get up for. You have to play well against Judd these days, he doesn’t present you chances like he used to and has really tightened up his match game. It should be a great match.
“I and others have to practice and work hard to keep up with the likes of Judd now. The game has gone to another level over the past few years and I am really fighting hard to get into that top three or four bracket. I am not far off, but just have to keep doing the right things.
“The atmosphere at the Masters this year is probably even better than it was the year I got to the final in 2018. The roar from the crowd ahead of the decider against Stuart…I had to stand back from the shot for a moment, we have really missed that.
“It is an awesome place to play – and also being in London it is a big showpiece tournament, appealing to a very wide audience.
“I remember coming out of practice once and seeing Bobby Davro coming down the stairs, and we have had Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood here this week. It’s just a bit different. I’m not sure about quite feeling like a rock star here – although I have to say I do a mean Bohemian Rhapsody Queen impression on the karaoke. But this is snooker showbiz, and we are packing the arena.
“It is a hugely competitive playing rivalry between me and Judd because I am trying to get to where Judd is and has been. I want to push those boys at the very top.
“I have played him twice here, I have fonder memories of the 6-5 win in the semi-finals a few years ago coming back from 5-2 down, you prefer to remember the wins! I went all guns blazing at 5-2 and ended up potting balls from everywhere, but I am a different player now, more experienced and I’m not sure I would go for all those shots now. You become more calculating.
“Judd has been the main man and in top form the last couple of years, so though he has beaten me a few times he has done that to almost everyone. He plays well against me, and similar for me, so it is a good match-up.”
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