Ali Carter can no longer be mentioned on a list of the best players still awaiting their first world-ranking event triumph. That milestone was removed by a 9-5 win over Joe Swail in the final of the Welsh Open in Newport last night.
In a contest that proved football does not have a monopoly on matches of two halves, Carter fought back from 5-2 down, winning seven consecutive frames to achieve a long-held ambition in style.
Carter is the fifth player to make the Welsh Open his breakthrough title. Of the others, Ken Doherty and Mark Williams both went on to win the World Championship and Carter’s credentials for success in the sport’s premier event are now clear.
En route to the World Championship final last year, Carter compiled a 147 break, but there was little fluency during the opening session as the qualified pilot from Tiptree, in Essex, remained grounded.
Without managing anything out of the ordinary, Swail led 5-2 but did not pot a ball in the next three frames as, in drawing level at 5-5, Carter made breaks of 54, 116 and 109, amassing 339 points without reply.
There was to be little interruption to the onslaught as Carter, growing in confidence with each passing frame, added further runs of 61, 91 and 67 before stealing the closer on the black.
“I learnt a lot from being involved in the final at the Crucible last year and that experience really helped me cope today. I knew I had to stay patient and I found form at exactly the right time,” Carter said.
His reward was £35,000 and promotion to a career-high third in the provisional world rankings. Having also reached the semi-finals in the Northern Ireland Trophy, Grand Prix and United Kingdom Championship, he is the season’s highest-ranking point earner. “I think I put myself under too much pressure in the early frames. It was only when I relaxed that I clicked and my game came together,” Carter, who also paid tribute to his coach, Terry Griffiths, the 1979 world champion. He said: “Terry’s been a massive positive to me mentally.”
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