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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Jonathan Veal

Luca Brecel stunned to pull off greatest-ever World Championship comeback - ‘I was shaking’


Luca Brecel produced the greatest-ever Crucible comeback as he won 11 frames in a row against Si Jiahui to book his place in the World Snooker Championship final.

The Belgian, who conquered Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-final, looked certain to be heading home as he trailed 14-5 in the race to 17 after a dominant opening by Si.

But he started his miraculous recovery by winning the final five frames of Friday’s night session and offered up more of the same on Saturday afternoon to complete a remarkable 17-15 victory.

In doing so Brecel became the first player in Crucible history to overturn a nine-frame deficit and booked his first final in Sheffield, having never previously got past the first round.

It was difficult not to feel some sympathy for Si, who at 20 years old looked set to become the youngest Crucible finalist in history, as he looked increasingly solemn in his chair as Brecel kept on winning frame after frame.

To his credit, he stopped Brecel’s run of 11 in a row with a composed break of 91 and then had chances to send the match into a final-frame decider before a clipped red along the cushion allowed the Belgian to close out a famous victory.

Brecel said: “At 14-12, 14-13 I knew I had a chance, but I think 14-14 I was really believing it because I could see he was struggling and I was playing great stuff.

“But I knew I could have lost as well. To win is absolutely unbelievable, it is the biggest game of my life. I was in disbelief, I was shaking.

“The whole game I was expecting to lose, even with a session to spare, so to even have a chance to win was the craziest feeling ever in my body and I can’t believe I did it.

“I have never won a game here and now I am in the final, it is some story. It is going to take a while to sink in.”

Luca Brecel was stunned to pull off the biggest comeback in Cruicible history (PA)

Si hopes the punishing loss can help him become a better player.

“I was feeling kind of disappointed, but not very, he played nearly perfect snooker in the final two sessions and my safety let me down.

“I have realised there are flaws in my game, there are so many things I can still improve, so in the coming season I will be confident I can beat anyone.”

In the other semi-final, Mark Selby and Mark Allen had a titanic late-night battle before Selby eventually emerged triumphant 17-15 at 12.47am on Sunday morning to seal a spot in his sixth World Championship final.

On Friday, Stephen Hendry criticised the pair for casting a “dark cloud” over the Crucible as their second session was forced to end after they completed only five of the scheduled eight frames due to running out of time.

Saturday’s morning session continued to be a scrap, with Allen winning three of the final four frames to stay within one of Selby at 11-10 behind before a remarkable evening, full of classic, late-night Crucible drama ensued.

Selby was cruising to victory as he took the first five frames to move within one of glory at 16-10. However, a furious Allen comeback saw him string together five frames on the spin as his English opponent missed chances to kill the match off and suddenly found the scoreline reading 16-15.

But Selby dug deep and finally won the one frame he needed, as a break of 64 did most of the damage but meant that it would only be around 12 hours before he will be back on the baize for a mouthwatering clash of styles against Brecel.

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