Belgium’s Luca Brecel compiled four centuries to sink Kyren Wilson and become the first player from continental Europe to reach the UK Championship final in York.
The 26-year-old rose to the biggest match of his career in spectacular fashion, starting with a 130 clearance and rounding off a 6-4 win with a showboating 112.
Wilson, installed as favourite after beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight, grabbed a century of his own in the second frame but could make little impression in the face of such an onslaught from the world number 40.
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“It feels incredible to put up a performance like that in such a big game,” said Brecel. “If I play like that again in the final I don’t think I’m beatable.”
His stunning display was a long time coming from Brecel, who had showed enormous potential as a junior and became the youngest player to qualify for the World Championship at the age of 17 in 2012.
But despite becoming a fixture around the world’s top 16 and winning his first ranking title at the 2017 China Championship, he struggled to maintain that initial momentum.
Brecel, who added a second ranking title with the Championship League in 2020, showed more glimpses of his talent in York when he whitewashed former winner Stephen Maguire in round three.
But there was little to suggest the way in which Brecel would set about the biggest match of his career, opening with a 130 clearance and going back in front with his second century after Wilson had responded with a 121.
Brecel might have contrived a third century in the fourth frame before an unfortunate split allowed Wilson to clear to pink and level for a second time at 2-2.
Wilson, strongly tipped to make his belated breakthrough at a major tournament after sinking O’Sullivan, edged in front for the first time by taking the fifth frame.
But he could only sit and marvel at the onslaught that followed as Brecel produced his third century of the match, followed by breaks of 97 and 80, to move one frame from the final.
The remarkable standard continued as Wilson responded with 83 to reduce the deficit to 5-4, but if the magnitude of the occasion was going to get to Brecel he was yet to show it.
With the balls well placed after a lengthy safety exchange at the start of the 10th frame, the Belgian stepped in to finish with a flourish, an outrageous cross-double red sealing a fourth century and a place in Sunday’s final.
“It’s going to be amazing back in Belgium,” added Brecel. “It’s going to be all over the TV and the newspapers. It is already special but it is going to be even better if I win the final tomorrow.”
Wilson admitted he could have no complaints about the result, which leaves him still searching for an elusive first ‘triple crown’ title of his career.
Wilson said: “The better man won on the day, and to do that under the utmost pressure out there is very impressive.
“As long as I leave everything out there and feel like I’ve done myself justice, at the end of the day there’s two people out there and the better man on the day is going to win.”