Home favourite Aditya Mehta came through a tough battle against Mark King by a 4-3 scoreline at the Indian Open, on a night when Ding Junhui saw his title defence end.
Mehta, India’s only professional player, left his fans in his home city of Mumbai relieved and delighted as he survived a fight-back from King to earn a last 32 match with Ricky Walden tomorrow night.
Mehta, who reached the final of this event last season, dominated the early exchanges and led 3-0 with top breaks of 52 and 64. King then recovered to 3-3, helped by a bad miss on match-ball black from Mehta in frame five. But Mehta then dominated the deciding frame, taking it 76-4 with a top run of 45.
“I got off to a quick start because Mark struggled with the conditions, but once he got going it was always going to be tough because he’s a very good match player,” said 29-year-old Mehta. “I should have won 4-1 but just didn’t land perfect on the black and missed it. I’m glad I was able to put that out of my mind.
“Technically my game is as good as it has ever been, and that’s what got me over the line tonight. My safety game is equal to anyone’s so if I can score well I can beat the top players, especially in this best-of-seven format. I have my family and friends and everyone on my side, which makes a big difference.”
China’s Ding, who beat Mehta 5-0 in the final last season, suffered a surprise 4-3 defeat against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the latest disappointing result for Ding in a season littered with early exits from the main ranking events.
Ding appeared to be in control when he came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2, making breaks of 102 and 119. But a missed red to a centre pocket on 38 in frame six proved the turning point. Thailand’s world number 61 Un-Nooh cleared with 58 to make it 3-3 and then potted a long red in the last frame to set up a break of 66 which proved decisive.
“This is my biggest win and I’m really happy,” said 29-year-old Un-Nooh, who reached the last 16 of the Haikou World Open last season. “Ding is one of the top players and he beat me at the China Open last year, so I had to improve and learn how to beat him.
“I felt a lot of pressure in the last frame because this season I have lost a lot of deciders. This time I had to concentrate and I told myself I must win. I don’t think I can win a title now, but maybe within the next three or four years if I can improve. If I win my next match I’ll be on £6,000 which will really help my ranking.”
Graeme Dott beat Robin Hull 4-3 in a high quality match which featured five breaks over 50 from Dott and four from Hull. Dott trailed 3-1 but eventually won with a superb 68 clearance in the decider.
Luca Brecel maintained his excellent recent form in a 4-2 win over Fergal O’Brien, firing in runs of 112 and 101.
David Morris scored a 4-0 win over David Gilbert with a top break of 78 while Dechawat Poomjaeng won a Thai derby against Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon 4-1 with a top run of 92.