Snooker-Holder Brecel ousted by Gilbert in World Championship first round

SHEFFIELD, England – Defending champion Luca Brecel crashed out of the World Snooker Championship after a shock 10-9 loss to Dave Gilbert in the first round at the Crucible on Saturday.

The Belgian started the match comfortably with a 6-3 lead at the end of the first session before taking a 9-6 advantage but world number 31 Gilbert won the final four frames to triumph.

Brecel, who missed two chances to win the match, said he had been struggling with a throat infection since March

“Yeah, (I’m) tired,” he told Eurosport. “It was not easy being ill, but I tried. Dave played well, he’s a fantastic player and he deserves it. I hope he wins it.”

Brecel beat former world champions Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby to win his first world title in 2023.

However, the 29-year-old’s exit means no first-time winner has retained the title since the World Championship moved to Sheffield in 1977 – the so-called ‘Crucible Curse’.

Gilbert will face either his compatriot Robert Milkins or China’s Pang Junxu in the next round. REUTERS


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