Zhao Xintong justified the hype that had piled on his shoulders by completing a 10-5 win over Luca Brecel to claim the UK Championship crown in York.
But Zhao revealed his more immediate concern is to celebrate his historic victory with a karaoke party at his home in Sheffield.
“I’ll go home and get a good night’s sleep, and maybe tomorrow I’ll sing karaoke,” said Zhao, who trained at the Victoria Pool Academy in the city. “I will sing “We Are The Champions”.”
Zhao and Brecel attempted to break the established order in their respective semi-finals, Brecel opened fire four centuries in a 6-4 win over Kyren Wilson while Zhao compiled six breaks beyond 70 to sink Barry Hawkins.
And it looks like the exciting single-frame snooker game will continue as Zhao, who is ranked 26 in the world and has never made it past the quarterfinals of a ranked event, marks his joint debut. his critical finish with a score of 79.
Brecel, finally fulfilling the potential he first showed as the youngest ever qualifier for Crucible in 2012, responded immediately with a score of 133, but the inevitable. From now on, the magnitude of the event will begin to have an effect.
Zhao pushed forward with 61 but he started to look more uncertain on some of his shots, and Brecel took advantage with shots 33 and 47 to restore parity for the second time. two.
The Chinese took advantage of Brecel’s failure to make the most of his chances as he led 4-2, and bet heavily to take control of the final as nearly half a century followed with empty balls. mourn.
But a simple black miss let Brecel finally reduce the deficit again, before Zhao rounded off a sometimes explosive and always engaging afternoon session with a good break of 78 to move five from the title 5. -3.
Just as he did at the start of the opening session, Zhao rushed in after a Brecel break-off to hit the ball with a break of 87, and the next 120 – after Brecel had his first chance and missed a single pink. simple – shows no way back for Belgian
Zhao was present again in goal 11 but missed a pink in the middle on the 27th, and Brecel, under great pressure, defended goal with a 64 cold strike to give himself a glimmer of hope. with a score of 7-4.
Brecel did not punish Zhao for ruining 56 in the next game as he moved inside two goals of the victory, but the Belgian rectified the shortfall with a fine 81 catch on the next after Zhao miss a simple red.
Nerves were clearly starting to strain for the young Chinese player but he edged one goal away from victory after benefiting from a snooker swing in the back of the yellow jersey, then finished into his historic title in style with a 99 win break.
Zhao revealed that he had a rough night before the final and didn’t want fate to tempt him by booking an extra night in a hotel before a crunch win over Hawkins.
“I finally found a great hotel,” says Zhao. “I didn’t want to worry myself, so I didn’t book a hotel – because if I got lost I could have gone to Sheffield and sang karaoke yesterday.”
Brecel was heroic in the defeat and joined the chorus of praise for the 24-year-old, insisting he has now cemented his place at the top of the sport.
“Zhao really didn’t give me a chance,” Brecel said. “I think he scored three times in my half and made 80, 90 clearances.
“You would think he would fall apart in the end but he didn’t, he just played the same things.
“If you make a mistake in a final it is disappointing but this time there is nothing I can do. He’s only 24 years old, he’s in the top 8 right now and he’ll be there until he passes away. ”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/chinese-uk-championship-ronnie-o-sullivan-jimmy-white-sullivan-b1970268.html Zhao Xintong craves karaoke celebration after winning the UK championship crown