Two-time Crucible finalist Ali Carter became the first seeded player to be knocked out of this year’s Cazoo World Championship as debutant Jak Jones beat him 10-6 with one of the best performances of his career.
Welshman Jones knocked out another former finalist, Barry Hawkins, in the last qualifying round to earn a place in the televised stages for the first time, and the 29-year-old showed his talent and composure again tonight as he pulled away from 7-6 to take the last three frames and end the hopes of 11th seed Carter. His reward is a second round tie with Neil Robertson, which starts on Friday morning.
World number 52 Jones was a semi-finalist at the Gibraltar Open last year, but to reach the last 16 of snooker’s biggest tournament is undoubtedly the best achievement of a pro career which started in 2010.
Carter has had an excellent season, highlighted by victory at the German Masters and a run to the final of the Players Championship, but showed only patches of that form at the Crucible, where he was runner-up in 2008 and 2012. It’s his second consecutive first-round defeat at the Theatre of Dreams as he lost to Jack Lisowski on his previous appearance in 2021.
Cwmbran cueman Jones led 5-4 overnight and took the first frame today with a break of 100. Carter replied with a run of 91 and the next two were shared to leave the score at 7-6.
Frame 14 lasted 49 minutes and came down to the colours. A loose safety from Carter when he led by 24 points handed Jones a chance to pot the yellow, and he completed a fine clearance to snatch it. A break of 79 extended his advantage to 9-6.
Carter had a chance to clear from 57-4 down in frame 16, but missed the black with one red left, and that proved his last shot.
“It was amazing walking out in front of the crowd for the first time,” said Jones. “I didn’t know what to expect but I thought I held myself together well. I was more calm than I thought I would be. It’s the biggest win of my career.
“The frame to go 8-6 ahead was important, he left me a gap where I could pot the yellow, and I made a good clearance. A 9-6 I knew it wasn’t over because Ali can reel off four frames in a row. I was shocked when he missed the black – a nice easy red was what I needed to fall over the line. It was a relief.
“I am going back to Wales tomorrow morning for a couple of days of rest and practice. Hopefully I can give Neil a good game.”
Carter said: “Jak played unbelievable stuff, that might be his best performance. His safety was exceptional and whenever he did make a mistake he got away with it. It’s tough to take and a disappointing end to a good season for me.”
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