Kyren Wilson dubbed his second-round victory at the Betfred World Championship the strangest match he has played in but snooker’s new superstar is now eyeing the world title to cap a remarkable rise.
It has been a whirlwind 12 months on the baize for the Kettering cueman as he won his first ranking event in Shanghai, qualified for the World Championship for just the second time, booked his place in the quarter-finals at the iconic Crucible Theatre and all but assured he will start next season ranked in the world’s top 16.
Mark Allen was eventually dispatched 13-9 in the second round on Monday afternoon, although the scoreline only tells half the story.
Wilson raced into a 7-0 lead and although the Northern Irishman won five on the spin to make it 7-5, the underdog once again pulled away to lead 11-5 heading into Monday’s final session.
The remarkable comeback looked on when Allen made breaks of 86, 103 and 64 to narrow the deficit to 11-9 but Wilson showed a resilience beyond his 24 years to win the next two and set up a mouth-watering quarter-final with world No.1 Mark Selby.
“It was probably the strangest match I’ve ever played,” said Wilson. “To go 7-0 up, to lose five on the bounce, to win four on the bounce, to lose four on the bounce, it was just a crazy, crazy match.
“But I think I showed a lot of mental strength to come back at Mark and it’s something that I’ve learned in the last couple of years.
“There are only eight players left in the tournament and any one of the eight can still win it. I’m here to win it now and I was here to win it from the start.
“I’ve given myself a great start and there’s only three matches to go. It doesn’t get any easier with the World No.1 next but I’ll be well up for it.”
Wilson won three best-of-19 qualifying matches just to reach the Crucible but appears to be showing no ill-effects as he races through the draw.
The world No.19’s progress is evoking memories of Shaun Murphy’s remarkable victory as a qualifier at the 2005 World Championship and Wilson – who was 13 years old when Murphy lifted the trophy – admits he is taking heart from that triumph.
“It was a fantastic achievement and the way he did it, he blitzed everyone with his sensational potting,” added Wilson. “So it’s been proven that it’s possible and I’d love to add myself to that list.
“I do think fatigue could be a factor but luckily enough I’m still young, I keep myself in good shape and I don’t feel mentally or physically fatigued.
“The fact that match [against Allen] took a lot of mental strength I think sets me up nicely for the next round.”
PLEASE LEAVE IN FINAL PAR – Watch the World Championship LIVE on Eurosport, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan.