Snooker: Carter sneaks into first final

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The Independent Online

Ronnie O'Sullivan, attempting to win his third world title, faces Ali Carter, who has never reached a final before, to win the World Championship here. O'Sullivan is installed as the 1-7 favourite after his 17-6 trouncing of Stephen Hendry, which the Scot called "as close to perfection as you can get". But Carter's 17-15 win over Joe Perry was a fine match by any standards other than O'Sullivan's.

Both players enjoyed winning streaks, Carter from 5-2 down to 8-5 up, Perry from 9-7 down to 11-9 ahead as he restricted Carter to only 24 points in the first four frames of the day.

Carter reduced the gap to one with a break of 68 but Perry immediately opened it up again with one of 82 and was heading for 13-10 until a short range red eluded him. Minutes later, starting with do-or-die pots on the last red and green, Carter cleared for 11-12 and rode this momentum to reach 12-12 at the break.

In the evening, looking the fresher, Perry three times went the odd frame in front, on the second occasion from 46 behind with a 62 clearance to pink initiated by an outlandish fluke, then with 110 to lead 15-14.

Carter equalised with 77, and then a mobile phone rang out in untimely fashion as Perry was trying his initial middle distance red of the 31st frame. Carter made 44 from the resultant position to go one up with two to play.

It was not surprising that the closing stages of what was to prove the match-clinching frame should include so many anxious errors. First, in play with 42, Perry just failed to develop the last red from a side cushion and ran in-off. Then Carter, six in front, twice failed to pot the last red when it was inches from a corner pocket; Perry had a fine chance only to miss the last red at close range, deep screwing for the black. Finally it was Carter who contrived a last red-to-pink clearance to prevail 17-15.

In 16 years on the circuit Perry has only reached one final and two semis prior to this week. Carter, in 12 years, has two semis and no final. "It was such a tough match and to get over the line feels special," said the 28-year-old Carter. "It means everything. The key for me is that I've not been beating myself up when I'm sitting in my chair after making a mistake. I found an extra gear. My physical energy is there, but mentally I'm tired."

Perry admitted: "Going for 13-10, my concentration slipped. It was a terrible miss."

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