When Ronnie O'Sullivan Walked Out On Stephen Hendry | 2006 UK Championship Quarter Final

Chinese Wonder-Kid Si Into Quarters

Shaun Murphy’s prediction that Si Jiahui will become the first Crucible king from China took a step closer to reality as the new sensation wrapped up a 13-7 victory over Robert Milkins to reach the quarter-finals of the Cazoo World Championship.

Match schedule

Coming into this tournament, world number 80 Si had reached only one ranking event quarter-final – that came at the European Masters earlier this season. The 20-year-old is now enjoying the best fortnight of his life on the baize, and having won three qualifying matches to make it to the Theatre of Dreams, he has knocked out two heavy hitters in Murphy and Milkins. He is the youngest Crucible quarter-finalist in 25 years.

After a 10-9 reverse in the first round, Murphy offered the view that Si will become the first player from his country to lift the famous trophy, and he is now just two wins away from the becoming the biggest outsider ever to reach the final. His next opponent on Tuesday and Wednesday will be Anthony McGill, if the Scot can convert an 11-5 lead over Jack Lisowski into a place in the last eight.

Si, based in Sheffield, first turned pro in 2019 and was relegated two years later, but returned in 2022 after winning the World Snooker Federation Open and is clearly now a much improved player with genuine potential.

With Jak Jones also into the last eight, it’s the first time that two debutants have reached the quarter-finals at the Crucible since 1988 when Tony Drago and Steve James both took their first bow.

Si led 11-5 overnight and came from 52-22 down to steal the first frame today with a 35 clearance. He looked set to seal the result in frame 18 until he missed a red to a top corner on 68, and Milkins added some respectability to the scoreline with a fine 69 clearance. Welsh Open champion Milkins then came from 30-0 down to take frame 19 with a run of 55 to raise his hopes of a fight back. But Si ensured that the match would not go to a mid-session interval as he secured victory with a run of 105, his second century of the tie.

“Since the qualifiers, I have felt peaceful and calm emotionally,” said Si. “I treat it as if it’s a minor event, like a daily practice, and I try to enjoy the Crucible. Rob is a very aggressive player and plays with a quick rhythm, but I was also in the mindset of expecting opportunities in a match against a player of his style, if he’s not in top form. He can be very dangerous when playing well, after all he is a top 16 seed.

“I made a comprehensive break to get over line in the end. I believed the come-back was improbable so I took my time and did it patiently. I told myself not to rush it.

“After the Welsh Open, I went back to China and spent 20 days with my family. I had a great time with my parents and hung out with my girlfriend. I was homesick because it had been three years since I last went home. My father owns a pool club and all the customers were watching me playing. It’s great speaking to my dad after matches, to get motivation, he’s been genuinely great and supportive. Even when it’s after midnight in China when I’m playing, they all stay in the club on to cheer for their local boy. I’m sure they will do the same for my next match.”

Looking ahead to a potential meeting with McGill, Si added: “He has a very decent Crucible record. The only department of game I can compete against him is attacking because my safety is supposed to be the worst among the 32 players! I went for it and potted my way through to the quarter-finals.”

World number 14 Milkins said: “I lost a lot of close frames otherwise it could have been a much better match. Si played well but personally I think he will have to improve a lot to win the tournament. He’s a good player but might need a few more years. I’m not disappointed because I have had a great season and I could have gone out in the first round here.”