VAFAEI HUNTING HISTORIC CRUCIBLE DEBUT
Iran’s Hossein Vafaei proclaimed he was ‘born to make history’ after beating Simon Lichtenberg 6-0 at Betfred World Championship qualifying and moving within one match of becoming his country’s first Crucible competitor.
Earlier this season Vafaei became the first Iranian to lift ranking silverware with victory at the Shoot Out, where he defeated three-time Crucible king Mark Williams in the final.
The 27-year-old has reached Judgement Day on two previous occasions, but succumbed to defeats at the hands of Tom Ford in 2017 and Stephen Maguire in 2018.
This time he faces China’s Lei Peifan, who beat Alexander Ursenbacher 6-3 to also leave himself one win from a maiden Crucible appearance.
Vafaei swept aside Germany’s Lichtenberg with minimal fuss this morning. He composed breaks of 52, 63, 54 and 75 on his way to the whitewash win. Afterwards Vafaei admitted that despite his various issues with visas over the years, he remains steadfast in his bid to reach the top of the sport.
“I am trying my best. You don’t want to just be there. I’ve said before that whoever says they have been in my situation hasn’t,” said world number 18 Vafaei.
“One TV channel asked Ronnie O’Sullivan about me and he said that if he was in my situation he would rather another job. But no, I will never give up. I am working hard for my people to make them proud, make my country proud and I was born to make history.
“I can’t wait to get to that stage and qualify. I will try my best, as much as I can. I will work hard and I will fight until my last blood.”
Graeme Dott made the second 147 break of his career, 23 years after his first at the 1999 British Open, on his way to a 6-1 demolition of China’s Pang Junxu.
Scotland’s 2006 Crucible king has appeared at the Theatre of Dreams 20 times since his debut in 1997. However, he suffered Judgement Day defeats in 2020 and 2021. Dott will be aiming to rectify that against Jamie Clarke in the final round this year.
Clarke stormed through to the final round of qualifying with a 6-0 demolition of former semi-finalist Gary Wilson. The Welshman crafted runs of 119, 52, 58 and 68 during his win.
Ali Carter is through to Judgement Day after a hard fought 6-4 win over Gao Yang. The two-time Crucible finalist composed breaks of 82, 137, 53 and 54 during the win and now plays Matthew Stevens in the final round. Stevens earned his place with a 6-1 win over Sam Craigie.
Liam Highfield made a break of 98 in the deciding frame to beat James Cahill 6-5 and faces Yuan Sijun in the final round. Yuan scored a 6-1 win over three-time ranking event winner Ryan Day.
Welsh 20-year-old Jackson Page recorded a superb 6-3 win over Welsh Open champion Joe Perry to reach Judgement Day for the first time.
Page dropped off the tour after a first round exit at last season’s World Championship qualifying. However, he immediately regained his professional status at Q School and has a solid season in the aftermath. He now finds himself one win away from a Crucible debut.
Page plays David Grace in the final round, after the Yorkshireman defeated Xiao Guodong 6-4.