Daniel Wells has spent time cleaning toilets during his time away from the pro tour but he enjoyed his moment on the main stage today as he flushed out Judd Trump’s hopes of winning the BetVictor Welsh Open for the first time with a 4-2 victory in the third round.
Wells dropped out of the pro ranks in 2021 and put snooker to one side to work for his mum’s cleaning business, but has committed himself to the sport again this season and has had an excellent 2022/23 campaign while competing as an amateur ‘top-up’, scoring wins over the likes of John Higgins, Joe Perry and Gary Wilson as well as reaching the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor Shoot Out. He looks set to regain his place on the main tour next season and his confidence will be further boosted by an excellent performance against Masters champion Trump.
One of two Welshmen left in the field alongside Jak Jones, 34-year-old Wells is through to the last 16 in Llandudno and will meet Shaun Murphy on Thursday night.
The key moment of today’s contest came when Trump, leading 2-0, missed the black off its spot after potting the last red, trailing by 13 points with the balls at his mercy. Wells cleared for 2-1 then took the next two frames with runs of 67 and 101. In frame six, he led 24-15 when he potted an excellent long red and made 47 to seal the result.
“To beat a top player on TV is a massive stepping stone for me,” said Wells. “When Judd looked like making it 3-0 I thought I had gone, because I had missed chances. Luckily he missed it and after that I settled down and started to play a bit. I have put my whole life into trying to win tournaments and trying to provide a life for my family.
“My world fell apart during Covid, I can’t explain why or how I deserved that, but it happened. When I was off the tour and cleaning toilets, no one was paying my bills. It was a shock to me, I realised I have to be more gritty and not give other players too much respect. They are all human and if you put anyone under enough pressure they will crack. Hopefully I can go further, I am not finished in this tournament yet.”
Trump said: “Daniel was the better player all day. I nicked a couple of frames at the start and should have gone 3-0. After that I knew the balls wouldn’t run my way. In the last frame he made a couple of mistakes but didn’t leave anything, which is what happens. His safety was really good and I struggled to create any chances. I feel a bit rusty, I didn’t play well from the start of this week, everyone else was spinning the ball back but I couldn’t get any screw into the white. My game is in good shape, I just struggled this week.”
Murphy made his 599th and 600th career centuries in a 4-2 success over Anthony McGill. Breaks of 100 and 102 made Murphy the eighth player to cross that milestone. Hossein Vafaei top scored with 100 in a 4-3 win over Barry Hawkins, a result which ends Hawkins’ hopes of the winning the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus and also dents his chances of a place in next week’s Players Championship.
Mark Allen is very much in the race for that bumper bonus, needing to reach the semi-finals for a chance to overtake Ali Carter at the top of the BetVictor Series rankings. He scored breaks of 66, 57, 58 and 73 in a 4-1 win over Andy Hicks.
Luca Brecel is another of the five players in the hunt for the £150,000 pay day, albeit needing to win the title, and he saw off Cao Yupeng 4-1 with a top run of 86. John Higgins kept his recent improvement going as he narrowly avoided a surprise defeat against Sanderson Lam, winning 4-3.