World number 40 David Gilbert is through to the final of a major ranking event for the first time in his career after he today defeated Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 9-5 at the 2015 International Championship in Daqing.
Having taken a 5-3 lead after the opening session of their best of 17 frames semi-final, perhaps the most important phase of the match was the start of the evening session as David Gilbert quickly won the first three frames to move one away from victory at 8-3.
Although there were understandable signs of nerves as he looked to close it out, against someone similarly inexperienced at this stage of such a big tournament, the damage had been done and he eventually closed out the match well with a good pot on the green under pressure.
For Gilbert his run so far is obviously a tremendous achievement, one that is probably overdue with the 34-year-old having turned professional back in 2002. That I say that is a compliment to how highly I rate him because although he has generally remained ranked around the 32-48 bracket, he is such a talented player and one long regarded by contemporaries in the game as a dangerman who few would ever want to draw early at a ranking event.
For whatever reason though, until now he has been unable to translate his talent into success, having not previously been beyond the last 16 of a full-ranking event. Clearly however, following his recent semi-final appearance at the Ruhr Open and now his career-best run in Daqing, he has turned something of a corner and now stands just one match away from claiming a major trophy.
By all accounts his recent change of cue (apparently given to him by Matt Selt six weeks ago), has been the catalyst to his recent form and his reward will be a prize of at least £65,000, enough to see him rise to a career-high 21st when the rankings are revised next week.
He will though be hoping to go all the way now and success on Sunday against either John Higgins or Mark Selby would see him climb to 14th in the rankings, as well as gain a spot at the Champion of Champions next month at the expense of Ding Junhui.
As for Thepchaiya, again plenty of positives to take by the Thai player who will also rise to a career-high ranking next week of 36th. Having already reached the semi-finals of the Indian Open and the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters this years, as well as won the Six Red World Championship, he is another player heading very much in the right direction at present.
The day though belongs to Gilbert, who of course also has a day off now, with the second semi-final to be played tomorrow.