MICHAEL WASLEY prevailed in an incredible finish to secure a debut appearance in the final stages of the Dafabet World Championship on Wednesday night.
Wasley sank the re-spotted black from distance to beat his fellow Gloucester pro Robert Milkins 10-9 in the tightest possible finish at Ponds Forge in Sheffield.
The 24 year-old will face one of the top 16 seeds when the draw for the first round is made on Thursday.
“I’ve grown up with Rob and this was the biggest match of my career. It couldn’t have been any closer and I’m just delighted to get through,” Wasley said.
“I just thought if I had any shot I’d go for it. I’d just hit it. I’m delighted to pot such a good black in the end.”
Milkins held a slender 5-4 first session advantage but Wasley was poised to win 10-8 only to lose position in frame 18. He had further chances to win the decider but, with the pressure well and truly now on, started to miss and Milkins had a golden chance to seize victory.
But Milkins missed match ball black from the last red and Wasley eventually cleared green to black to force the re-spot.
“I’ve played at a couple of venues but they will be nothing compared to what the Crucible is like. I’ll be thinking about how to prepare over the next couple of days.”
Michael White, a surprise quarter-finalist at the Crucible last year, recovered from 6-3 down at the halfway stage to beat Matt Selt 10-7 and secure a return to the home of snooker.
Welshman White made a key 48 clearance to snatch the 14th frame on the black and a run of 50 in the next put him 9-6 up. Selt responded by winning frame 16 but did not pot a ball oin the last.
Xiao Guodong swept into the first round proper as his 10-1 defeat of fellow Chinese Li Yan secured his Crucible debut.
Xiao, runner-up in this season’s Shanghai Masters, made a highest break of 119 as he joined China’s no.1 Ding Junhui in the televised stage.
“I’m very happy to be going to the Crucible,” he said. “Getting to the Shanghai final gave me the confidence. My coach, Terry Griffiths, has also been very good for me.”
Xiao, the world no.25, will be sporting a distinctive pair of £400 silver shoes when he makes his Crucible bow.
Ryan Day, three times a World Championship quarter-finalist, booked a ninth Crucible appearance with a 10-5 victory over Grimsby’s Stuart Carrington.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.