Chinese sensation Zhao Xintong made a superb clearance in the deciding frame to beat Marco Fu 5-4 in the first round of the Bank of Communications OTO Shanghai Masters.
Shenzhen’s 17-year-old Zhao was runner-up at the World Amateur Championship last year and is considered one of China’s most promising teenagers. He beat Matthew Selt in the wild card round and then scored the best result of his career so far with victory over world number eight Fu.
Defeat for Hong Kong’s Fu means that nine of the 16 seeded players lost their opening match at the season’s third world ranking event.
Fu started with a break of 117 but Zhao won the next three frames with top runs of 114 and 56. The next two frames were shared then Fu battled back to 4-4 and looked set for victory when he led 64-1 in the decider. But a missed match-ball blue to a centre pocket allowed Zhao back to the table and he cleared brilliantly with 64 to snatch it by a single point.
“I didn’t expect Fu to miss that blue as he’s a top level professional player,” said Zhao, who faces Fergal O’Brien next. “For one moment I was very shocked. It was only after I potted the last black that I realised I had won the match by only one point. I just thought that if I could clear up I’ll win.
“I’m controlling my pace a lot. I used to play a lot faster and left my opponents too many chances, which eventually cost me matches.
“I think I can play my own game during competitive matches which will help me a lot after I turn pro. I want to win these matches very much and these wins give me a lot of confidence.”
World Champion and world number one Mark Selby beat Ken Doherty 5-2 with a top break of 99. “I played ok before the interval, after that there were a lot of distractions with phones going off and people moving so it was quite difficult to stay focussed,” said Selby. “A few of the bigger names have gone out but there are still a lot of good players left. Conditions are hot and sticky which makes playing your natural game tough.”
In-form Stephen Maguire, who won the Six Red World Championship last week in Thailand, saw off Jimmy Robertson 5-1 with a top run of 66. “It was a great win for me last week, I didn’t expect it,” said Maguire. “I wasn’t expecting anything but the game is a bit crazy and in six reds anything can happen.”
Mark Allen top scored with 87 in a 5-3 defeat of Andrew Higginson.