DRAW & RESULTS - CRUCIBLE DRAW
World Snooker Championship Qualifiers 2012 - Belgium star Brecel reaches Crucible
The biggest story of this year's Betfred.com World Snooker Championship qualifiers at the Sheffield Institute of Sport has to be Belgium wonder teen Luca Brecel who won four matches to qualify for the televised stages of the tournament at the Crucible Theatre for the first time in his career.
As well as becoming the youngest person to qualify (at 17 years and one month, beating Stephen Hendry's record), he also is only the first Belgium ever to qualify for the world championship. The draw for the Last 32 of the tournament takes place on Monday 1.30pm live on Talksport radio.
He recorded two impressive wins against Ian McCulloch (10-2) and Barry Pinches (10-3) then came through a decider against Michael Holt to set up a final round clash with former ranking event finalist Mark King.
Brecel trailed King 5-4 after the first session but won the first three frames when they resumed today. The next two were shared then King made runs of 50 & 61 for 8-8. Brecel was carm in the next as he won a safety battle on the colours then made a cool break of 57 to win the match 10-8.
People in the snooker world have been tipping Brecel for great things since he was a young boy, having won multiple junior events around the world. His debut on the main tour this season was less than impressive but he made up for it in spades by qualifying for the games showcase event.
"The bigger the occasion the better I handle it. I don't mind who I play, I'm not afraid of anyone," he said today in his post match interview, translated from Flemish by his coach Chris Henry.
"It feels fantastic. I knew if I qualified I would be the youngest ever. No one can criticise me now. Since I started playing snooker I wanted to be World Champion. I went to the Crucible last year to watch. It was unbelievable, I loved the atmosphere," said Brecel, who practises snooker for three hours per day and has had a private tutor at home since he was 14 in order to give him time to play the game he loves.
"I want to thank my parents (Carlo and Mirella) for what they have done for me, as well as my coach Chris for the help he has given me on the mental side. Everyone in Belgium is following me, they will be going crazy now."
Tamworth's David Gilbert also rejoined the tour this season after dropping off after the 2010/2011 campaign, but thanks to Q School he was able to get straight back on and with all matchplay experience he has had in recent months he is thriving back on the tour. He showed this to everyone by beating former Masters finalist Fergal O'Brien 10-4 to mark his first return to the Crucible since 2007.
After dropping out of the top 16 earlier on in the season, many were worrying that seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry would struggle to play in the qualifiers. But apart from the German Masters he managed to qualify for every event and he assured on Sunday that he would be returning to the Crucible with a strong 10-6 win over China's Yu Delu.
The 43-year-old led 6-3 after the first session with top runs of 129 and 107. He extended his lead with another frame but Delu hit back and won the next two to only trail 7-5. Breaks of 69 and 76 saw him go 9-5 clear, Delu took the next but it was too late for him as Hendry won the match in the 16th frame with a classy break of 88.
"It was a huge match and I had to go into it with the mindset of just trying to win, however I played," said Hendry, who is now set for his 27th consecutive appearance at the Crucible. "In fact I played very solid and won frames in one visit. Yu is a very capable player and I wasn't taking it for granted.
"I'm used to being in the top 16 so it was tough to have to play an extra match to get there and I'm very pleased to get through. Playing in the PTC events and qualifiers this season helped because it would have been hard to come in cold today. It would have been horrible not to qualify as this is the biggest tournament. I can't wait for it now, I will just enjoy it and I don't care who I get in the draw.
"I have surprised myself in the qualifiers this season, I wasn't looking forward to it but I have won most of my matches. My target all season has been to get back into the top 16, though I think I've left myself too much to do now," added Hendry, who is flying to China for a series of exhibitions on Monday, and returns to the UK on Friday. Quotes - World Snooker
Fellow Scot Marcus Campbell was close to joining Hendry at the Crucible for but Chinese no.2 Liang Wenbo came through in the decider to win 10-9. A great result for Wenbo as after joining the top 16 a few years ago he has had a miserable run of form and saw himself drop out the top 32, hopefully this win will encourage the attacking player going in to the 2012/2013 season.
Former world championship semi-finalist Marco Fu ensured that there would be the largest Asian contingent the Crucible has ever seen this year by coming through 10-4 against Joe Jogia. Him, Wenbo, Liu Chuang, & Cao Yupeng will join Ding Junhui in the last 32 of the event which starts this Saturday.
Dominic Dale showed that this recent bad run of form had come to end with a commanding 10-3 victory over Ben Woollaston. Since reaching the PTC10 final earlier in the season he has struggled for consistency and missed out on multiple venues but he more than made up for that by reaching the Crucible for the second year in a row. Lets hope for the charismatic Welshman he gets a more favourable draw than Ronnie O'Sullivan this year!
On Q Promotions stablemates Barry Hawkins & Joe Perry will also be joining Dale at the Crucible as they both recorded wins against tough opponents, Shoot Out champion Hawkins beat Ireland's David Morris 10-4 & former world championship semi-finalist Perry beat Jamie Burnett 10-8. It
Another Englishman to qualify for the Crucible through was Widnes Warrior Andrew Higginson who performed strongly the whole way through his match to beat Peter Lines 10-4. A good run at the TV stages of the tournament could see him enter the top 16 for the first time in his career.
And lastly a special note goes out to China Open champion Peter Ebdon who produced the strongest win of the final qualifying round, an impressive 10-0 whitewash over Alfie Burden which included a top break of 102 from the 2002 world champion.
Since winning the title in Beijing a few weeks ago Ebdon once again looks like the tough competitor that players want to avoid in the draws. Depending on who he draws in the first round he could be the dark horse of the tournament, he's already won it once and reached the final two other times.
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