Kyren Wilson compared his futile attempts to chase down John Higgins to a Tom & Jerry cartoon but if he continues his current trajectory, he’ll undoubtedly capture the Betfred World Snooker Championship before too long.
Wilson’s valiant display on his maiden Crucible semi-final appearance ultimately came to naught, as Higgins prevailed 17-13 to move into a seventh world final of his storied career.
But the 26-year-old Kettering cueman made a legion of new fans as he doggedly clung to the coat-tails of the Scottish great before the 42-year-old pulled away in Saturday’s final session.
On numerous occasions, Wilson moved within a frame of Higgins but was unable to ever get on level terms – trailing 5-3, 9-7 and 13-11 at the end of the first three sessions.
However, at the end of a season in which he reached the Masters final in January and in which there was certainly nothing cartoonish about the grit he showed on the baize, the world No.9 has vowed to come back even stronger.
“It’s such a hard tournament to do well in,” said Wilson. “It’s my first experience of the one-table set-up at the Crucible. The first session was my undoing in this match and couldn’t catch him after that.
“It’s experience, I’m used to it now and looking forward to coming back next year and doing better.
“He’s seized on the opportunity of my inexperience early on. I missed a sitter of a red to go 4-4.
“From then on it felt like Tom & Jerry! I felt like I was chasing the mouse but could never quite catch him!
“John is different class – he’s granite and what a fantastic match-player and ambassador for the sport. The pleasing thing for me is I felt I performed, other than the first session.
“I’ve gained plenty of experience for my career. I’m only 26 and it’s the first time I’ve been on the one-table set-up, so in years to come, I know I can play out there now.”
Wilson did win the first frame on Saturday afternoon with a run of 96 to close to 13-12 but Higgins then reeled off four of the next five – breaks of 136, 100 and 98 the highlights – to get over the line.
The Scot’s veteran nous ultimately saw him triumph but was mightily impressed by his resilient young foe – even comparing him to three-time world champion Mark Selby.
“I said to Kyren at the end that he reminded me of Selby in 2007 [when Higgins beat him 18-13 in the World Championship final] and you look at what Selby has gone on to do,” explained Higgins.
“They’re different players but you just get an aura off them. Kyren thought he was going to win and he thought he was going to pot everything, which is quite tough to play against.
“No matter where you leave the balls, you think he’s going to pot them. Throughout the match he was knocking the long ones in – he’s a great ambassador and a great young man and he’ll be back here.
“He’s maybe not as tight as some other players but that will come. He put me under real pressure but he just couldn’t get level with me.
“He’s a guy who learns every single time he plays and I expect big things from him here in the future.”
Watch the snooker World Championship LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with Colin Murray and analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.