Cope relishing Grand Prix final

Jamie Cope will lock horns with Neil Robertson in this year’s Royal London Watches Grand Prix final.

Jamie Cope will lock horns with Neil Robertson in this year’s Royal London Watches Grand Prix final.

Having seen Australian ace Robertson defeat Scot Alan McManus 6-2 in the afternoon’s semi-final, it was Stoke qualifier Cope who sparkled in the second semi in Scotland.

Despite twice going behind, the Longton potter ran out a comfortable 6-3 winner over Mark King at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.

And afterwards the 21-year-old rising star revealed his desire to win this year’s title and pocket the £60,000 (€90,000) prize-winners cheque. The runner-up gets £30,000 (€45,000).

“It’s the first time that I’ve played really well, but I still feel there’s lots more to come,” said Cope, who earlier this week pocketed a maximum 147 clearance which will earn him £24,000 (€36,000) in additional prize money unless it is bettered.

He added: “I’m just hoping I can play well in the final. It’s going to be big occasion for me.

“I think Mark tried to slow me down a bit at the start, but once I got going I was all right from there.

“I’ve really settled amongst the balls every frame. I had a few nerves, but I waited for a chance to score and once I got in I did score.”

King started the better and his break of 70 secured the first frame.

Cope squared matters by pinching a scrappy second frame, before Romford left-hander King restored his one-frame cushion with another 70 run.

But a composed 96 break under pressure made sure Cope levelled matters in time for the mid-session interval.

And following the resumption Cope got even better as he reeled off three frames on the spin to put himself within touching distance of a place in his first professional final.

Breaks of 58, a rapid 74 and then a 92 clearance established a healthy 5-2 lead.

King hit back with breaks of 57 and 53, but it only delayed the inevitable.

Cope’s form this week and during qualifying – just to make sure of a place in the tournament proper – has been remarkable.

He played seven qualifying matches at Pontin’s in Prestatyn, winning six of them to reach the round-robin best-of-five group stages in Aberdeen.

Three victories from five group games was enough for a place in the last 16 - and from there the 2004/05 Pontin’s Holidays Challenge Tour Order of Merit winner has gone from strength to strength.

In the last 16 he whitewashed Gloucester’s Robert Milkins 5-0 in their best-of-nine clash, before following that victory with a 5-4 win over Cambridgeshire’s Joe Perry in the quarter-finals.

Added to that his excellent win over King, Cope has had to play a staggering 15 matches to earn his place in this year’s final.

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