Wilson ready for 'whatever is thrown' at him in World Championship final

Kyren Wilson and Jak Jones
Kyren Wilson and Jak Jones first faced each other at Q School in 2011 [PA Media]

Kyren Wilson says he is ready to “handle whatever is thrown” at him as he prepares to face Welsh qualifier Jak Jones in his second World Championship final.

Wilson lost 18-8 to Ronnie O’Sullivan in his only other previous appearance in the showpiece match at the Crucible Theatre in 2020.

But having been knocked out early for the last two years, he has looked imperious this time around – peaking at the end of an otherwise underwhelming season, in which a semi-final at the German Masters in February had been the highlight.

“I have gathered experience and learned a long tough lesson,” said Wilson, who also tinkered with wearing a glove earlier this term.

“If you keep yourself in a positive mental frame at mind you give yourself a chance of performing.

“I feel I can handle whatever is thrown my way, whether it is a tough gruelling safety battle, a long pot or break building.”

Wilson comfortably beat David Gilbert 17-11 in Saturday’s semi-final but credits his commanding display in a 13-8 win against John Higgins in the last eight as a pivotal moment for him in Sheffield.

“When you play someone like John that just has the best all-around game I’ve ever seen… If you can take someone apart like that and he says such kind words, it fills you with belief.”

A victory for Wilson in the final would lift him up to third in the world rankings and allow him to collect the £500,000 top prize, while Jones would climb from 44th to sixth.

Quiet man Jones hoping for win as outsider

Prior to Sunday, only eight qualifiers have previously reached the World Championship final at the Crucible.

Canada's Cliff Thorburn was the first in 1977, while China's Ding Junhui was the most recent in 2016.

However, Jones now has the opportunity to emulate fellow Welshman Terry Griffiths (1979) and England's Shaun Murphy (2005) after coming into the tournament as a 200-1 outsider.

While he expects his law student wife Inna, who he met while playing in the Riga Masters in Latvia, to attend what will remarkably be his first ever appearance in a ranking final, he is unsure whether his mother will also make the journey because of nerves.

“She might come up to wash my shirts or something, like she did for the previous match," Jones said.

"She stayed up a couple of nights back, washed my shirts and went home the next morning. She can’t watch it live. She’ll watch it back if I’ve won afterwards.

“She has never been able to watch. Me and my dad have always gone around together and nobody else has ever really come."

Jones, 30, who is nicknamed the Silent Assassin, turned professional in 2010 and first competed against Wilson at Q School 13 years ago.

However, his journey to the brink of a world title has included plenty of setbacks, including dropping off the main tour.

“Because I have had so much disappointment in my career so far, I don’t get too excited," he added.

"When I win it feels just like job done because it is what I have been practising for all my life. It doesn’t feel as good as it should do, maybe."

Wilson aims for ‘Ronaldo’ status in own household

Wilson and his young family had have other challenging issues to deal with over the last 12-18 months.

His wife Sophie had a stroke and has been diagnosed with epilepsy, while his eldest son Bailey has also suffered with illness and also had to have an operation after an accident at school.

Back at the table, Wilson says he has benefited hugely from enlisting the help of a hypnotherapist.

“It is about emptying your stress bucket. We all have things that can affect your daily life and it has just allowed me to go out and be that little bit freer," he explained.

“Our minds are so clogged up and filled with so many different things that don’t need to be there, so if you can eliminate them and just play snooker it makes the game a lot easier.”

The 32-year-old, who admits that he drank too much beer and ate too much pizza the night before losing to O’Sullivan four years ago, says he is hopeful he can convince his youngest son Finley that he is just as successful as the footballer he idolises, Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Hopefully I have overtaken Ronaldo. Roy Keane [the former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland captain] was here on Friday watching me play,” Wilson added.

“Finley decided to go up and ask him for a photo and said ‘Is it true you used to play with Ronaldo?’ He didn’t know what a legend Roy Keane was, so that is what I have to deal with.”