Tom Ford looks to step up as he sets up biggest match of his life in International Championship final

'I've got to up my game.'

Tom Ford looks to step up as he sets up biggest match of his life in International Championship final
2023 Duelbits World Grand Prix - Day 3
Tom Ford is into the biggest final of his career (Picture: Getty Images)

Tom Ford will have the chance to land the first ranking title of his career on Sunday in the International Championship final after a superb 9-6 win over Jordan Brown in the semi-finals on Friday.

The 40-year-old knocked in three centuries, including three on the spin late in the match, to book his spot in the final against either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Zhang Anda.

It is the third time Model-T will contest a ranking final, having lost in the showpieces of the Paul Hunter Classic and last season’s German Masters, but this is the biggest of the trio by far.

The Leicester cueman has already secured £75,000, which will take him into the world’s top 16, but the trophy would bring with it £175,000, one of the biggest pay cheques on offer all season.

Ford was pleased with how he played in general against Brown, but is aiming for more consistency in the final, whether it be against the Rocket or Mighty Mouse.

‘I felt really good out there. As soon as I got in the balls I felt like it was going to be one chance,’ he told WST. ‘I felt really comfortable. But I’ve got to up my game because it’s okay that I scored well when I got in, but it’s getting in.

‘There were some frames where I couldn’t beat my dad, but there were some frames where I could have beat anyone.’

2023 International Championship - Day 6
Jordan Brown enjoyed a great week in Tianjin despite defeat in the semi-finals (Picture: Getty Images)

Ford said he was hampered by a cold arena and was worried about his eyesight which he feels is on the wane, but he is clearly in great shape when break-building.

‘I struggled early on in the match. My hands are always cold and it felt a bit cold in the arena tonight to start with, so it was like playing with two blocks of ice as hands,’ he said.

‘When I got into it and warmed up a bit I felt really good in the balls, but I’m definitely going to Specsavers when I get back because anything over six foot I’m struggling to see properly.

‘I knew when I got in the balls I was playing well and scored well.’

It was Brown who made a flying start to the match, with breaks of 75, 117 and 58 helping him to an early 3-0 lead, but Ford showed the poise and composure that he has been showing all week to respond and win the next three to level up. The final two frames of the opening session were shared and the pair were locked at 4-4.

Returning for the evening session in China, Brown again started the better, knocking in a superb 134 to move ahead again, but the two were proving very difficult to seperate as a 133 from Ford made it 6-6.

That huge break gave the Englishman the impetus, though, and he followed it with two more centuries (101 & 109) to go one from victory, making 57 in what proved to be the final frame.

Waiting in the final for Ford will be either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Zhang Anda who play their semi-final over two sessions on Saturday.

The seven-time world champion is clearly hot favourite to progress, but Zhang got the better of the Rocket at the English Open last month on his way to the final, where he was beaten by Judd Trump.

Ford has wins over O’Sullivan in the Shoot Out and WST Pro Series, but he’s never downed the Rocket over a longer match than best-of-three. He has never played Zhang before.

MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan headlines unexpected semi-final line-up at International Championship

MORE : Judd Trump’s epic winning run ended by Stephen Maguire at International Championship

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