Luca Brecel will return to the scene of the greatest moment of his career so far when he travels to Guangzhou for next week’s Evergrande China Championship, which kicks off on Monday.
The Belgian picked up his maiden and only ranking victory to date in 2017, when he defeated Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy 10-5 in the final. It was an unforgettable week for Brecel, who also ousted five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan on his way to the title.
We caught up with the 24-year-old to reflect on that victory…
Luca, it was clearly a very special moment for you in Guangzhou two years ago. What are your main memories of that 10-5 win against Shaun Murphy in the final and getting over the line?
“I actually felt most confident going into the final. I had beaten Shaun in three of the four most recent matches prior to that. So I was quite confident. I always seem to play well against him. I had no idea how I was going to feel once the game actually got underway, but in the end I was just very calm. I think if I win another tournament it would be even more satisfying. I know how it feels now, so I really want to win another one. I look back on that victory and use it as motivation to make it happen again.”
You were 4-1 down against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals and battled back to win 5-4. How important do you think that result was in terms of the confidence it has given you going forward?
“It was big. Ronnie was playing the best snooker of his whole career back then and he is still doing it now. He played well that day, so to come back and beat him was amazing. It wasn’t like I capitalised on an off day. I managed to force the result. I played perfect snooker to come back and beat him, anything else wouldn’t have been good enough. I also knew I would play Li Hang in the semi-finals. No disrespect to him. He is a great player and a good friend, but I felt it was a brilliant opportunity to get to the final. It was a close game, but I did manage to get through. I felt really good going into the final with Shaun, so everything panned out for me that week.”
Did you feel any different in terms of your standing in the sport following lifting the title in Guangzhou?
“I always believed in myself and I always dreamed of being a top 16 player. Now I really feel like I belong at that level. That didn’t maybe come straight after winning the China Championship though. It settled in my mind about a year afterwards when I was still up in the top 16 and still getting results. I feel now as if I am a top player. You need to feel like that if you want to be one. I’m far more disciplined now. I practice every day and I feel as if I am more grounded. I’m enjoying the travelling more than ever. The cue feels good. Everything is going well so I am happy.”
How much do you enjoy travelling to events in China?
“I never really know what to expect from China. Ever since I started going I have just really enjoyed it. I don’t know why. I think it is just because there is just a different atmosphere from Europe. I just like everything about it. The food, the atmosphere and the people. I am always so motivated when trying to qualify for China and I have a very good record in getting through. I am always happy to go.”