Image Credit World Snooker Tour

Zhao Xintong, an enthralling new talent, won his first pro title in spectacular fashion, defeating Luca Brecel 10-5 in the final of the Cazoo UK Championship in York.

Zhao, who has been regarded as a big talent since his younger days, has taken the first step toward fulfilling his potential by winning snooker’s second-largest ranking event. He is the youngest champion of the UK Championship since Judd Trump in 2011. He is 24 years old.

Zhao’s victory showed his potential: his break-building class, positional understanding, pure ball striking, and unflappable temperament are all qualities that great champions have. It remains to be seen whether he can become a consistent winner in the sport’s most difficult period, but tonight’s victory feels like a major step forward for the left-hander.

Zhao, who had never played in a ranking final before, succeeds Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, and Yan Bingtao as the fourth mainland Chinese player to win a ranking title. He joined Ding, Ireland’s Patsy Fagan, and Australia’s Neil Robertson as the fourth non-British winner in the UK Championship’s 44-year history.

He improved from 26th to tenth in the world rankings, winning a spot in the Cazoo Masters against John Higgins next month. Zhao will very probably compete in all three Cazoo Series events this season and also have a spot in next year’s Cazoo Champion of Champions.

Brecel, who won the China Championship in 2017, was the first player from continental Europe to compete in a Triple Crown final, but he missed out on the opportunity to add to his total of ranking championships. After defeating Kyren Wilson 6-4 in the semi-finals with four centuries, the 26-year-old couldn’t match his brilliance in the final and was outplayed for the entire match. The £80,000 runner-up reward propels him from 40th to 18th place in the standings.

Zhao extended his lead in the first frame tonight, leading 5-3 after the first session, with such a long red setting up a break of 87. In frame ten, Brecel had an opportunity to react, but he only made 9 before missing the pink to the top corner, and Zhao punished him with a 120, his sixth century of the tournament, to take the lead at 7-3.

Brecel reduced his deficit after the interval with a break of 81. Frame 14 came down to a safety exchange and Zhao, leading 28-19, trapped his opponent in tough snooker behind the yellow, creating the opportunity for a break of 43, which put him four up with five to play. There were no signs of nerves for Zhao, and nine minutes later, the contest was over as he signed off with a break of 99.

Zhao, nicknamed the Cyclone, said, “I’m so happy tonight. It’s my dream come true.” “I was confident because when I practise, I think that I can do anything, so I wanted to be the champion. It was very enjoyable at the end. The moment was so nice, I will remember it.

I think this could be my new start, I can have more confidence to win more tournaments. I trusted I could do it because it was my first time in the final and I won the trophy.

I’m going to go home, get a night of good sleep, and maybe tomorrow I’ll do karaoke… I will sing “We Are The Champions!” I will try next year to be World Champion. ”

Brecel said: “Zhao didn’t give me many chances. He potted a red three times from my break-off, and they were 80 or 90 breaks. When I got a chance, I missed a couple. I thought at the end he could crumble, but he didn’t and just played the same stuff, so hats off to him. He’s only 24. He’s in the top ten now, and he will stay there until he dies, simple as that.

“I don’t think I’ve seen someone play so well for so long; he just played the same the whole way through and was just amazing. It would be good if, Zhao, Jack Lisowski, and Judd Trump were all in the top 16. I think it’s good for snooker and exciting. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself; I had a good week. It’s just a shame I didn’t play my best in the final. ”

Read Hare for More On Cazoo UK Championship


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