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The Greatest Comeback: Dennis Taylor’s 1985 World Snooker Championship victory or Niki Lauda’s two comeback F1 world titles?

Drew Goodsell | 16 June 2020

Which of these comebacks will make the final two?

With one spot in the final decided, we move onto the second semi-final matchup to determine who takes on Tyson Fury to be crowned as our Greatest Comeback in sporting history.

The second place in Wednesday’s final is up for grabs, with Dennis Taylor’s comeback in the 1985 World Snooker Championship going up against Niki Lauda’s two F1 world championships after his horrifying crash in 1976.

Who will make it through to our grand final? Give us your vote and help us decide.

Dennis Taylor’s win in the 1985 World Snooker Championship

Dennis Taylor’s already beaten two high profile footballing comebacks, seeing off Barcelona’s famous win over PSG in the Champions League, before knocking out Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League final win in the quarter final. Can he take on Niki Lauda here?

Taylor was taking on world number one Steve Davis in the 1985 World Snooker Championship final, with Davis expected to steamroller his opponent, winning his fourth world championship in five attempts.

In contrast, Taylor had only made the final once before, losing to Terry Griffiths in the 1979 final. The apparent gulf in class showed early on, with Davis taking an 8-0 lead from the first session.

Davis missed the chance to go 9-0 up, missing a thin cut on the green. The tide swung, with Taylor claiming the frame and then going on to claim six of the next seven frames to make it 7-9 at close of play on day one.

Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor

Taylor levelled the scores early on day two, pulling it back to 11 each, before going behind again and pulling himself level on 15-15. He’d still not taken the lead at any point of the match, and it wasn’t about to happen now, as Davis found a two-frame lead at 17-15 to sit only one frame away from another title.

Frame 33 went to Taylor though, with the Northern Irishman never knowing when he was beaten, before a break of over 50 in frame 34 levelled the game again at 17 apiece, taking it to a final frame decider.

It was a frame that would go down in history, lasting over an hour and being played until past midnight. Davis was ahead 62-44 with only the brown, blue, pink and black left to play.

Taylor potted the brown, blue and pink to drag the score back to 62-59, meaning the championship was to be decided on the black. Both players missed several chances to win, but Davis overcut his final shot, leaving Taylor with the black to pot. He did with ease and claimed a stunning victory.

Niki Lauda’s two F1 world titles after his life-changing 1976 crash

A first-round victory over Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters win, before a quarter final win over Manchester United’s 1999 Champions League success has led Niki Lauda’s charge to the semi-final. But will his comeback get your vote to beat Dennis Taylor?

After claiming his first F1 world championship for Ferrari in the 1975 season, he headed into the 1976 campaign as the defending champion. It looked as though he was on his way to his second on the bounce too, winning four of the first six races.

He won another at Brands Hatch in race nine, before it was time for round 10 at the Nürburgring. Before race weekend, Lauda had raised concerns over the safety of the event, urging a boycott from his fellow drivers. Despite voting in favour of a boycott, the race still went ahead.

Lauda’s safety concerns were confirmed only two laps into the race, when the Austrian swerved off a fast left-hander, hitting an embankment and having his car burst into flames. He remained trapped in the burning wreckage, and when taken into hospital, slipped into a coma. He was then red his last rites by a priest with many believing he couldn’t make it through the horrifying injury.

Niki Lauda McLaren

But only six weeks later, Lauda raced again and finished fourth in his Ferrari at Monza, before returning to the podium with a third-place finish in USA. He finished only one point behind James Hunt in the world championship, despite missing two rounds through his injury.

Lauda went on to win the 1977 championship in his final one for Ferrari, despite winning only three races. He won by 17 points, ahead of Jody Scheckter, before moving to Brabham for two unsuccessful campaigns and retiring in 1979.

He came back to the sport after three seasons away, racing for McLaren in 1982. The 1982 and 1983 seasons were unsuccessful again, and the start of the 1984 season didn’t look much better, with three retirements in the first four races.

Five wins and four second place finishes later, Lauda’s consistency led him to a third world title, despite retiring six times. He finished only half a point ahead of Alain Prost. Lauda eventually retired for good at the end of the 1985 season.

Cast your vote

Who do you think should line up against Tyson Fury in our final? Will it be Dennis Taylor or Niki Lauda? Let us know in our poll.

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All odds and markets are correct as of date of publication.