The Chinese chess grandmaster took the title by beating world number four Ian Nepomniachtchi. Zhao has now won 31 of his 33 career games and will play in next year’s World Championship, due to be held in London.,
On Sunday night, Zhao Xintong was a deserving UK champion (Picture: WST)
After his stunning UK Championship victory on Sunday night, Zhao Xintong is certain that he will be able to add more trophies to his collection.
The 24-year-old played in his maiden final and hit a massive one on his first try, defeating Luca Brecel 10-5 in a fantastic performance that showed minimal nervousness despite the monumental occasion.
For a long time, the Cyclone has been touted as a future star, but his results haven’t lived up to the expectation, with just one semi-final appearance since becoming professional in 2016.
He has now turned things around, defeating the likes of John Higgins, Jack Lisowski, and Barry Hawkins on his way to defeating the Belgian in the final.
With his first major championship under his belt, the Chinese believes he now has the confidence – as well as the skill – to go on and win more.
‘I’m really thrilled, I was delighted yesterday [after beating Hawkins in the semi-finals], but now I’m so happy because this is my goal, and I accomplished it today,’ says the player. Zhao told Eurosport about it. ‘I have the ability to win more championships in the future.’
Snooker is another popular sport.
Zhao dominated the final, gaining the lead with a 79 in the opening frame and going on to make five more half-centuries and a 120 en route to the trophy and the £200,000 first prize.
With the massive check, he has jumped from number 26 to number nine in the world, securing his spot in the Masters for the first time next month.
This week, he’ll have some time to celebrate before travelling to the World Grand Prix, which begins on December 13th.
‘I’m overjoyed tonight; it’s a dream come true,’ she says. WST was informed by Zhao. ‘I felt confident because I believe I can do anything when I train, so I wanted to win.’ It was a lot of fun in the end, and the moment was so pleasant that I will never forget it.
‘I am nervous before every match, but I simply relax and enjoy myself.’ It was quite challenging for me, but I succeeded.
‘I believe this will be my new beginning, and I will be more confident in my ability to win additional tournaments.’ Because it was my first time in the final and I won the trophy, I am certain that I can accomplish it.
‘I’m going to go home, get some rest, and maybe do some karaoke tomorrow…’ We Are The Champions will be sung by me! I’m going to attempt to win the World Championship next year.’
When asked whether he’d like to have a beer or two, he replied, ‘Maybe vodka.’
Brecel was also racing in his first Triple Crown race, and although he was upset to lose, he acknowledged Zhao’s skill in the finale.
‘Zhao didn’t offer me a lot of opportunities,’ the 26-year-old said. ‘ From my break-off, he potted a red three times, and they were all 80 or 90 breaks. I missed a few of opportunities when I had them.
‘I thought he may breakdown in the end, but he didn’t, and he just kept playing the same stuff, so hats off to him.’ He’s just 24, yet he’s already in the top ten, and he’ll remain there until he dies.
Luca Brecel had previously been in the top 16, but has fallen to #40 in the rankings (Picture: WST)
‘I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone play that well for so long; he simply kept playing the same manner the entire time and it was incredible.’ I believe it would be excellent for snooker and entertaining if myself, Zhao, Jack Lisowski, and Judd Trump were all in the top 16. I shouldn’t be too hard on myself; I had an excellent week. It’s simply a pity I didn’t give it my all in the championship.’
Brecel moves up the rankings from #40 to #18 as a result of his run to the final, thus despite missing out on the Masters, he reclaims his spot among the game’s top.
The Bullet will compete in the Scottish Open this week, whereas Zhao will have a week off, indicating that his victory in York was really unexpected, since he failed to qualify for the tournament this week.
Zhao Xintong won the UK Championship title with a dominating victory against Luca Brecel.
MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan says Zhao Xintong is the most skilled snooker player he’s ever seen.
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