The stage is set for the last round of qualifying for the Betfred.com World Championship, which features four players who have never before played at the Crucible.
Andrew Pagett made a dramatic late night escape to beat Nigel Bond 10-9, having got the two snookers he needed in the decider.
Pagett is a mate of Mark Williams. I watched some of his match the other day against Bjorn Haneveer and he seemed to be striking the ball with real confidence.
I’ve been very impressed with Liu Song this season for making the most of the chance he was given to play on the tour first through John Higgins’s suspension and then because of the retirement of Patrick Einsle.
Liu is one of three Chinese players in the final round so there could be four Chinese in the TV stages, plus Hong Kong’s Marco Fu.
Matt Selt has played well enough the past couple of seasons to suggest he can make it through, although Marcus Campbell has had a good season and got himself into the top 32 for the first time.
Jimmy Robertson is no relation to the reigning world champion – although that didn’t stop the hapless Press Association describing him as an Australian in the results the other day – but could do with some of Neil’s grit when he faces Ken Doherty, the 1997 Crucible winner.
Robertson, a former English amateur champion, staved off a late rally from Tony Drago yesterday and has plenty of momentum behind him but he, like all the rest, will be understandably nervy with the Crucible now within touching distance.
So there could be a few new faces at the Crucible and there may be an old one too after Steve Davis raised his game to come from 7-3 down to beat Jack Lisowski 10-9.
Davis, who first won the world title 30 years ago, made two centuries and displayed the iron competitive spirit that has sustained his long, glorious career.
Stephen Lee would have to be favourite to win their match on recent form but Davis just seems to find an extra couple of gears in the World Championship.
He’s played at the Crucible 30 times before but you can tell it would still mean everything to him to appear there again.
Final qualifying round draw:
Mark Davis v Rory McLeod
Joe Perry v Liu Song
Liang Wenbo v Jamie Burnett
Mark King v Mike Dunn
Dominic Dale v Michael Holt
Martin Gould v Robert Milkins
Ryan Day v Liu Chuang
Judd Trump v Dave Gilbert
Matthew Stevens v Fergal O’Brien
Marcus Campbell v Matt Selt
Barry Hawkins v Anthony Hamilton
Stephen Lee v Steve Davis
Gerard Greene v Dave Harold
Stuart Bingham v Alan McManus
Andrew Higginson v Andrew Pagett
Ken Doherty v Jimmy Robertson