When they resumed, Lewis slipped further behind, just a set from elimination
at 5-1 down. But as he finally recovered his focus, Wade’s game collapsed.
The world No 3 lost 10 legs in a row to let his seemingly unassailable lead,
and his dreams of a first world title, slip from his grasp.
Earlier, Hamilton had produced a display of rare, deep resolve and was
rewarded with the biggest payday of his career.
Hamilton had previous: at the World Matchplay in July he had resurrected
himself from a 15-8 deficit to stun Whitlock by winning 17-15. Here he began
the stronger, capitalising on Whitlock’s nervous start and remaining
impregnable on his own throw to surge into a 3-1 lead.
Whitlock hit back to claim the next four sets. But under the utmost pressure,
Hamilton checked out 110 in the 10th set to level the match at 5-5 and broke
Whitlock’s throw in the decider to claim a famous victory.
Lewis v Wade, putatively the evening’s main event, was thus temporarily cast
into the role of addendum. Until, that is, the third leg of the match, when
Wade pinned an astonishing checkout of 157 to break Lewis’s throw, going on
to win the first set. Lewis was still playing at a fraction of his true
extension, the canny Wade beating him to every punch.
The two players have had a long-standing enmity, and after disparaging
comments made by Lewis about the crowd after his quarter-final, he was
roundly booed to the oche, his every missed double being cheered.
Instead of ignoring them, he baited them. Recovering his concentration, he hit
finishes of 105 and 130 to level the second set. Then came the breeze; then
came the tsunami.
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