Joe Perry booked his place in a final for the first time since 2018 when beating Jack Lisowski 6-5 in the last four of the Welsh Open.
Perry is in the later stages of his career, and had a poor campaign prior to arriving in Newport.
There were no signs of any form, with his best results being runs to the second round at the European Masters and UK Championship, but he has looked good all week and dug in to fend off a fightback from Lisowski.
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A scrappy opener swung Perry’s way after he put Lisowski in trouble with a fiendish snooker. He continued to turn the screw, and forced the mistake which set up a clearance.
Perry has arguably been the best player this week, and he produced a polished second frame to open up a cushion. He crafted a break of 59 and controlled the table after breaking down, eventually forcing an error from Lisowski.
Perry made his first mistake of the contest in the third when missing a pink to right middle, but Lisowski missed a straight blue to the same pocket and the Gentleman stepped in to open up a three-frame cushion.
Lisowski failed to punish a Perry error in the third, but he did in the fourth. Perry missed the simplest of reds, close range, virtually straight and nothing to do with the cue ball. He could only have been thinking too far ahead, and he went back to his chair shaking his head in disbelief. The disbelief likely turned to disappointment, as Lisowski stepped in to get on the board at the mid-session interval.
Lisowski came back from the break and started like a train, raising hope of a 147 with eight reds and eight blacks. The ninth failed to drop, and Perry had a chance to counter, but missed by some distance and Lisowski took his second invitation to cut the gap to one.
Perry’s miss in the fourth set alarm bells ringing and further errors followed. But he snapped a 27-minute spell without a pot thanks to a crafty safety in the sixth, and an excellent positional shot appeared to free him up for a break of 68 to move 4-2 to the good.
Lisowski responded to Perry’s 68 with a run of 69 in the seventh to keep himself in the hunt, but Perry hit back to take the eighth and move within one frame of the final.
With his back against the wall, Lisowski freed his arm - after Perry had passed up a chance - to stroke in a 71 to cut the gap to one.
Lisowski was looking to repeat the script from the first semi-final, and he mirrored a shot Judd Trump pulled off at the same stage of his comeback win over Hossein Vafaei - a brilliant long red with the cue ball tight to the baulk cushion.
Just as Trump did, Lisowski picked off a superb century to take the match to a deciding frame.
Lisowski played the Mark Williams roll-up break in the decider, determined to ensure he would play more than one shot in the final frame.
Perry had to absorb Lisowski’s punches, but he is a hardened performer and he eked out a lead. He was then lucky to put Lisowski in trouble with a red over the pocket - guarded by the blue - and Lisowski attempted to pot his way out of trouble.
It did not come off and Perry gobbled up the loose reds, under huge pressure, to win his 16th final-frame decider at the Welsh Open - more than any other player in the history of the event.
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