Ding Junhui suffered a shock 5-4 defeat against 18-year-old Yuan Sijun in the last 32 of the Evergrande China Championship in Guangzhou.
Yuan, who turned professional last year, took a dramatic deciding frame to score the best win of his career so far and reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time. He will now meet Mark King, who thrashed Masters champion Mark Allen 5-1.
After sharing the first six frames, Yuan took the seventh with a superb break of 108. He could have sealed the match in the eighth, but missed a red when leading 66-6. China’s top player Ding, winner of 13 ranking titles, fought back and got the snooker he needed to take the frame to the final black. After a safety exchange, Yuan went in-off the black to leave the score at 4-4.
Yuan made 55 in the decider before missing a tricky red, and Ding had a chance to clear, making 40 before leaving the final red in a the jaws of a baulk corner. That proved crucial as Yuan added the points he needed for victory.
“I was so nervous, I’m still feeling it now,” admitted Yuan. “It might take a while to get over the emotions. I took one shot at a time today. I still got a bit emotional towards the end but I got the luck I needed. I think I can play better in my next match and it’s a boost of confidence to beat Ding.”
Ding said: “Given his ability, Yuan has got a lot of potential. It was tough today because I couldn’t control the white ball in the conditions. But Yuan played well so I’m not surprised to lose.”
John Higgins came from 4-2 down to beat Mei Xiwen 5-4. China’s Mei had chances to win the match but couldn’t take them and four-time World Champion Higgins took the last three frames with a top run of 85.
“I was very lucky to win,” said Higgins, who now meets Scott Donaldson in an all-Scottish clash. “Mei had a great chance to go 4-1 up. There’s no way I can go any further if I keep playing like that.”
Donaldson came from 3-2 down to beat Jack Lisowski 5-3 with a top run of 105.
World Champion Mark Williams continued his fine start to the season as he beat Gary Wilson 5-2 with a top break of 136.
World number one Mark Selby scored a 5-1 win over Chinese wild card Chang Bingyu. A break of 60 gave promising 16-year-old Chang the opening frame, but Selby then took control, winning five frames in a row with runs of 66, 62, 64, 88 and 59.
Judd Trump saw off Jamie Jones 5-2 with a top break of 64, while Shaun Murphy compiled runs of 108 and 92 in a 5-2 defeat of Xiao Guodong.
China’s Yan Bingtao made a 111 in a 5-2 win over Stuart Bingham while Iran’s Hossein Vafaei top scored with 93 in a 5-3 win over Ryan Day.
In a repeat of the 2010 World Championship final, Graeme Dott beat Neil Robertson 5-2 with a top break of 126. Dott, age 41, said: “That’s the best I have played since last season when I got to the German Masters final. The game gets tougher every year but I still enjoy competing, I’m always working on things, tinkering with things, and that keeps me going.”
Thursday’s last 16 line up:
Martin O’Donnell v Liang Wenbo
Lyu Haotian v Shaun Murphy
Judd Trump v Yan Bingtao
Scott Donaldson v John Higgins
Mark Selby v Hossein Vafaei
Mark King v Yuan Sijun
Barry Hawkins v Graeme Dott
Zhao Xintong v Mark Williams