David Gilbert came from behind to complete a 3-1 win over Mark Allen in the Championship League final – and end a 22-year wait for his first ranking title at Leicester's Morningside Arena.
Gilbert – who turned professional in 1999 and celebrated his 40th birthday in June – lost his first match of the day to Cao Yupeng in Group 2, but a 3-0 win over Ryan Day and a 3-1 victory against two-times world finalist Ali Carter saw the Tamworth man reach the final two points clear of Carter and Day.
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Allen dominated Group 1 with 3-0 wins over Tom Ford and defending champion Kyren Wilson bookending a 3-1 success against 19-year-old Bai Langning.
Gilbert had lost his four previous ranking finals including a 10-9 defeat to Mark Williams at the 2018 World Open having led 9-5, but the world number 23 was delighted to finally scramble over the winning line.
“I felt really good, got to 50 odd and new I needed red, colour, red, overran the black but still felt calm and in control of the frame," said Gilbert about holding his nerve in the final frame.
"I played a bit of a shocker on the last red, but I went for it, got too much side but was very lucky that for once Mark didn’t clear up.”
I’m only used to loser’s speeches, so I don’t know quite what to say. It’s fantastic, a great start – last year was quite tough so to open with a win is brilliant. Hopefully I can start playing well again and compete in other tournaments too.
“I always felt I could do better, I know I will never be the best player in the world, but I always felt I could go a bit further and have some bigger moments, so I am glad I stuck at it.”
Allen was in devastating scoring form and will look to carry that form into next week's British Open which will be held at the same venue.
He made three centuries in an astonishing demolition of Wilson, who scored only two points as the Champion of Champions holder ran in 127, 124 and 146.
That came after runs of 75, 54 and 71 against Bai and 123 and 83 in dismissing Ford. Gilbert, nicknamed 'The Angry Farmer', was not too shabby either.
He enjoyed a 139, 58 and 50 against Carter and 72 and 100 against Day before keeping the former Masters champion at bay in the final.
"Very well done to Dave Gilbert winning his first tournament… it was only a matter of time!!" said Allen on Twitter. "Decent start to the season for me but just wasn’t meant to be in the end. Onto the next one for me. British open starts Monday."
- Group 1
- Mark Allen 9
- Tom Ford 4
- Kyren Wilson 2
- Bai Langning 1
- Group 2
- David Gilbert 6
- Ali Carter 4
- Ryan Day 4
- Cao Yupeng 3
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