In snooker news, Joe Perry has triumphed in his first Cazoo World Championship match in four years, beating Sanderson Lam 10-8 in qualifying. Perry, a former Crucible semi-finalist, secured victory despite trailing 5-4 early on. He went on to claim nine of the next 12 frames, helped by impressive breaks of 68, 90, 132, and 72. Perry’s reward is a Judgement Day showdown with close friend Mark Davis, who secured his place in the final stages with a hard-fought 10-8 victory over Lyu Haotian.
For Perry, it is a welcome return to the sport’s biggest stage after a frustrating few years. He has suffered first-round qualifying exits in each of the past three years, leading him to focus on punditry and media work instead. Perry expressed his joy at returning to the Crucible and the importance of winning his first match there for several years.
The match against Davis promises to be an emotionally charged affair, with the latter needing to qualify in order to retain his professional status. While Perry is keen to win, he is also mindful of the potential consequences for his friend. Nevertheless, he vowed to give everything to beat Davis, even if it means inflicting a painful defeat on him.
Elsewhere in qualifying, Hossein Vafaei enjoyed a comfortable 10-4 victory over Andrew Higginson to secure his place in the final round. Vafaei, who made his Crucible debut last year, will face Jackson Page for a chance to return to the iconic venue. Page, who beat Martin Gould 10-6, caused a stir last year by eliminating Barry Hawkins in the first round.
David Gilbert also progressed with ease, defeating Barry Pinches 10-3. He will face Matthew Stevens in the next round, with the winner securing a coveted place in the main draw. All players will be aware of the importance of the World Championship and the ranking points on offer. As the qualifying rounds reach their conclusion, the drama and tension are sure to intensify, with only the best players earning the right to compete for the sport’s biggest prize.