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Jak Jones secures World Cup final place with victory over Stuart Bingham

Jak Jones sealed his status as one of the World Snooker Championship’s most unlikely finalists after completing a grueling 17-12 victory over former champion Stuart Bingham at the Crucible.

The world number 44, who has never reached a ranking final before, will face Kyren Wilson in the two-day final that starts on Sunday after Wilson beat David Gilbert 17-11.

Jones battled through two qualifying rounds to reach the first round proper and becomes only the ninth qualifier in 47 years at the Crucible to earn his place in the final.

“It’s crazy, it was completely unexpected that I was in the tournament,” Jones said. “I don’t think I played particularly well. I have watched the world finals on TV at home every year and it doesn’t feel real yet, it hasn’t dawned on me yet.”

Bingham had pulled back to 13-11 in the first frame of the evening session, but the match turned in the following session when Bingham made an inexplicable error trying to play safely on the green and allowed the Welshman in to clear up and to regain a lead. three-frame lead.

Jones maintained his lead through tougher frames in a match that drifted to 12 and a half hours, before taking advantage of a missed black from Bingham to move one frame from victory with a cool 70 break.

More errors from Bingham provided Jones’ first chance in the next and he won it in two visits to complete his fairytale run to the final.

“I’m not feeling that excited to be honest,” Jones shrugged. “I should, but I’ve had so many disappointments in my career so far that I don’t get particularly excited about it. I don’t get too down, and when I win, no matter how big it is, I just feel like the job is done.

Earlier, twelfth seed Wilson took three of the four frames needed in Saturday’s third session to wrap up his win over Gilbert, earning him a second shot at the title after his 2020 final defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Five frames in a row in their second session on Friday evening had done the damage as Wilson turned a neck-and-neck clash, which was at 9-9, into a four-frame lead he was unlikely to ever squander.

Gilbert did reduce the deficit to 14-11 with a break of 70 in the opening frame of the day, but after coming off worse in a lengthy safety battle the next day, his fate was effectively sealed.

Wilson punched the air and blew a kiss to his family in the stands after potting the decisive blue and will start as heavy favorite in his second final on Sunday.

Afterwards, the 32-year-old revealed he had benefited from sessions with a hypnotherapist during his run to the final, which comes at the end of a quiet season in which he had just one tour semi-final, at the German Masters, on his name.

“It’s about emptying your stress bucket,” Wilson said. “There are all kinds of things happening that can affect our daily lives and that allowed me to go outside and be a little bit freer.

“Our minds are so cluttered with so many different things that don’t need to be there, so if you can just eliminate them and start playing snooker, the game becomes a lot easier.

“When he (Gilbert) missed a few in the third session, I knew I had to go home. Dave was able to take me off the table quite easily, so I knew I had to win that mental battle.

It capped an exciting revival for Wilson, who has endured a difficult two years, partly due to injury and illness in his family, and showed no ill effects from last year’s crushing 13-2 loss to John Higgins when he swept Dominic Dale aside. Joe O’Connor and then Higgins with relative ease.

“I’ve changed dramatically,” Wilson added. “If things didn’t go quite right then, panic alarms would have gone off and my game might have deteriorated, but I gathered the experience and learned a hard lesson.”

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