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Comeback king Lee Walker denies Jimmy White to claim World Seniors crown

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World Seniors Championship Snooker 2023 | Draw, Live Scores and Schedule of Play

Lee Walker is the defending champion

Lee Walker produced a wonderful comeback to stun Jimmy White 5-4 and claim the 2022 World Seniors Championship crown at the Crucible.

The Welshman was on the brink of elimination earlier on Sunday as he trailed 3-0 against reigning champion David Lilley in the semi-finals, before hitting back and snatching a 4-3 victory with a timely break of 73.

Walker, who also overturned a 2-0 deficit against Ken Doherty in the quarter-finals, was then 4-2 behind against three-time winner White in the showpiece.

But the 46-year-old produced a brilliant 79 clearance to force a decider, in which a calm break of 83 was enough for him to become the 10th different champion of this event since its revival in 2010.

Asked if it constituted the greatest moment of his career, Walker said: “Without a doubt.

“I think my days of winning ranking tournaments are gone, but I’ll take this and cherish it forever. I’m just absolutely over the moon.

“To come here and play in front of this crowd with a one-table setup at the Crucible – only a very select few people ever get to play that – it’s an absolute dream come true.”

It was undoubtedly the biggest match of Walker’s career. The 2018 Gibraltar Open marks the only venture to a ranking event semi-final of his entire professional career.

The Welshman had the first opportunity of the final but after breaking down on 29, White punished him with breaks of 64 and 31 to draw first blood.

The Whirlwind, who produced a stunning 132 total clearance in his 4-0 whitewash of reigning UK Seniors champion Peter Lines in the semis, threatened to snatch the second frame from 65-0 down.

And although he failed to convert that opportunity after missing a tricky final red, he won the next two frames for a 3-1 lead.

White was in first with 40 after the interval, but Walker pounced on a poor safety shot with 72 to halve the deficit.

Nevertheless, the 60-year-old took the next frame to move to within one of a fourth World Seniors title.

White completed his hat-trick two years after producing an astonishing turnaround from 4-0 down to stun Ken Doherty 5-4.

A similarly inspired fightback was on the cards when Walker controlled the next frame to stay alive, before forcing a decider with a lovely clearance of 79.

Cheered on by son Noah just hours before jetting off to Las Vegas with three-time World champion Mark Williams, the 1997 Crucible quarter-finalist held his nerve with a superb break of 83 to get over the line.

“I think I’m too old to play two matches in one day!” White joked.

“I played OK in bits and pieces [throughout the event], but maybe I ran out of steam today.

“You can’t take anything away from Lee; his safety was excellent, he took his chances. I’m delighted for him.”