Yuan Stuns Williams

Yuan Sijun produced a sublime display to defeat World Champion Mark Williams 4-3 on day two of the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham.

The 18-year-old Chinese star had already shown a glimpse of his potential this season with a fine run to the quarter-finals of the China Championship, which included a win over Ding Junhui.

Despite falling at the first hurdle today, Williams remains in 4th place on the one-year list and in a strong position to qualify for the remaining events in the Coral Series. The top 16 will progress to the Players Championship in Preston and the top eight will contest the Tour Championship.

The pair battled out a pulsating match this afternoon. With the score at 1-1 Yuan took to the front for the first time with a century run of 100. The 22-time ranking event winner Williams responded immediately with a contribution of 138 to level.

Williams then edged to the verge of victory by taking the fifth frame on a re-spotted black to make it 3-2. However, Yuan forced a decider with a run of 131 and he got over the line for a huge victory in the final frame.

Yuan said: “My form has been pretty good recently and I knew I had the chance to beat top players. I was a little bit surprised to qualify for this event after a tough first season on tour. The World Grand Prix wasn’t even in my thoughts six months ago.”

China’s Xiao Guodong also secured an impressive win on Chinese New Year. He defeated 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson 4-3.

It was a very successful day for his household, as he actually lives with fellow victor Yuan in Darlington. Xiao is now a very experienced player on the circuit, having competed for 11 years as a professional and is pleased to see Yuan performing well in his second year on tour.

Xiao said: “I’m very happy to see him win. We stay together and sometimes I cook for him. He is a young player and he can’t speak English that makes it hard to come and live here. He is doing well this season and I am pleased to see that. Sometimes he asks me things and I am happy to help him.”

Ali Carter also progressed thanks to a hard fought 4-3 win over Martin O’Donnell. While Mark Davis overcame Jimmy Robertson 4-3 to book his last 16 spot.