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A Star Is Born – Cahill Beats Ding

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Teenager James Cahill produced an incredible shock at the Coral UK Championship by beating Ding Junhui 6-5.

PICTURES by Tai Chengzhe

Blackpool’s 18-year-old Cahill, ranked 100th in the world, beat the player 97 places above him despite squandering a 5-1 lead. Cahill looked to have blown his chance, but regrouped in the deciding frame to end Ding’s hopes of a third UK title.

Cahill, who is playing his second season on the main tour having won the European Under-21 title last year, will face Mark Davis in the last 16 in York on Wednesday night, and is already guaranteed a £12,000 pay-day.

He showed signs of his potential earlier this season when he beat John Higgins 4-2 in a televised match at the Paul Hunter Classic. But even mum Maria – a former leading ladies player who was among the crowd tonight – could not have expected her son to beat Mark King 6-0, Andrew Higginson 6-4 and now Ding to reach the latter stages of a Triple Crown event.

It all started brightly for Ding as he won the first frame with a break of 134, but Cahill immediately hit back with a run of 100 in the second, and took advantage of a series of mistakes from his opponent in the next few frames to build a commanding lead. A superb 57 clearance in the sixth put Cahill 5-1 ahead.

He was unlucky not to seal the match in the next, missing out on position after potting the last red and yellow, and Ding’s 25 clearance swung the momentum. The Chinese ace found some rhythm with 60 and 55 to get back to 5-4.

Cahill’s excellent 57 in the next put him 68 ahead when he missed the fourth-last red. Ding needed three snookers, but Cahill failed to escape from one and left a free ball, and Ding eventually cleared from green to black to force the decider.

The world number three looked likely to complete the fight-back until he missed a simple red on 32. Cahill replied impressively with 56, and a long pot on the penultimate red allowed him to add the points he needed for a remarkable victory.

“I’m just so glad and relieved, because if I had lost I would not have got over it for a while,” said Cahill. “When I missed the chance to win 6-1, he started coming back at me, and it’s the worst feeling in the world. In the last frame I expected him to win in one visit, but after he missed I played a solid frame. My family went through the emotions as much as I did.

“I’ll need to be more consistent in my next match and keep my concentration better. But I’m in it to win it.”

Ding, who won five ranking titles last season but has not added to that tally this term, said: “I didn’t play well, I didn’t feel as if I was in the game. James should have won 6-4, he just showed a lack of experience and gave me chances. But he played well.”

Sussex’s Davis came from 5-3 down to beat Joe Perry 6-5 with a top break of 80, taking the decider 67-38.

Stephen Maguire impressed in a 6-2 win over Mark Williams, compiling breaks of 64, 132, 90, 87 and 80. “That was the best I have played for a few months,” said Maguire, who now meets David Morris.

Rod Lawler sprang another surprise by beating world number six Mark Allen 6-4. Allen made 138 and 115 in taking a 3-0 lead, but gritty Lawler recovered to win five of the next six frames with a top run of 110.