Thailand’s qualifier Thepchaiya Un-Nooh knocked out China’s defending champion Ding Junhui 4-3 to cause the biggest upset and enter the second round of the India Open World Ranking Snooker Championship here today.
The left-handed Thai, in fact, weathered a storm in the form of two masterly century breaks by the Chinese title holder which gave the latter a 3-2 lead.
“I feel so happy. He’s the top seed and in the world’s top four as well as the defending champion,” said an elated Un-Nooh after recording a 76-22, 74-1, 46-77, 32-106(106), 18-119(119), 70(58)-38, 113(66)-0 shock victory over the number one seed.
The Thai world number 61, who yesterday dashed the hopes of Neeraj Kumar by blanking the Indian 4-0 to enter the main draw of 64, came up with a brilliant display when it mattered most—in the sixth frame which he won to stay alive and then in the decisive seventh.
Grabbing a small opening after some early safety play by both the players, Un-Nooh recorded a superb break of 66 that set him off beautifully in the final frame. Then he produced another match-winning run of 46 and was well set to clear the table before missing the pink which gave him the frame 113-0.
“I had played and lost to Ding in the round of 32 last year. This is my biggest win so far,” said the Thai from Bangkok who also plays the game of sepak takraw.
“I was praying in the last frame to just give me one chance and I got it,” he said after the Chinese fumbled to give his Thai rival the small opener to accumulate points.
Ding also praised his rival, while adding he himself had not been playing well for some time now.
“I have not been playing well for some time. Anyway this is a good warm-up for the world championship. The ball skidded on the red and he took advantage,” said the world number four and tournament top seed.
Earlier, four-time world champion John Higgins produced a superb break of 136 on way to demolishing fellow-Scot Jamie Burnett 4-2 and enter the second round.
On a day when former Irish world champion Ken Doherty crashed out, beaten 4-2 by Northern Ireland’s Joe Swail in another first round match, the recently held Welsh Open champion Higgins—the world number 12 and sixth seed here— came up with his stunning break, the highest so far in the event that commenced yesterday.