Luca Brecel beaten in World Snooker Championship opener at Crucible

Luca Brecel’s World Championship title defence has fallen at the first hurdle (Picture: Getty Images)

Defending champion Luca Brecel is out of the World Snooker Championship, beaten 10-9 by Dave Gilbert in the opening round at the Crucible.

The Belgian Bullet started the match brilliantly but fell away later in the match as the Angry Farmer became stronger in the second session.

The Crucible curse has struck yet again, with the first time defending champion failing to defend his title, as has happened since the World Championship came to Sheffield in 1977.

The Belgian Bullet looked as comfortable at the Crucible as he had done last year en route to the title as he made 91 and 134 in the opening two frames.

Gilbert played well in qualifying and wasn’t to be intimidated, winning the next two with breaks of 70 and 77 before the first interval.

The first session really was beautifully high quality, with Brecel then making 73 an 104 before the Angry Farmer knocked in a 115. The Bullet won a closer ninth to end the session 6-3 ahead.

After the break it felt like all things were going the way of the world champ, with Brecel taking a 9-6 lead but he really started to struggle with the finishing line in sight.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 - Day One

Dave Gilbert is into the last 16 for a fourth time (Picture: Getty Images)

Gilbert made breaks of 65, 81 and 53 to take the match to a decider against the favourite, who was clearly not at his physical peak.

Despite the momentum Gilbert built it was never likely to be entirely straight forward in the decider, despite the Englishman taking a 69-point lead with a break of 65.

The Farmer missed his chance to get over the line and there was a tactical battle to come, but he did get over the line and oust the defending champ to set up a second round clash with either Rob Milkins or Pang Junxu.

At the climax of the match Brecel needed just one snooker but shook hands with Gilbert to concede the match.

More to follow…


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