Yan Bingtao thought he was going home during the deciding frame of his 4-3 win over Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday in Belfast, but was delighted to beat the six-time world champion and move into the Northern Ireland Open quarter-finals.
The 21-year-old was excellent as he fought his way past the Rocket, making breaks of 89, 64 and 51 along the way.
It was a dramatic contest in Belfast as O’Sullivan twice had the lead and then seemed to wrestle back momentum as he took the match to a decider in memorable fashion.
Yan was 3-2 ahead and 71-0 up in the sixth frame when he missed match ball, only for the Rocket to get to the table and make a 73 to level things up again at 3-3.
Many young players would have crumbled at that point, but not the Masters champion, who instead watched O’Sullivan spurn a good chance for the match before claiming a famous 4-3 win.
‘I’m very happy now because today is a very surprising victory,’ Yan told Eurosport. ‘3-2 up, 71-0 up, I think to win 4-2 but Ronnie’s great break of 73 and back to a deciding frame.
‘I missed a long pot, good chance for Ronnie and I was thinking I’ll go home tonight, I was surprised he missed the pink and gave me a very good chance.
‘I was just thinking, “concentrate.” I feel very big pressure because 71-0 up, I thought I’d be winning 4-2.
‘I just told myself, don’t think of the last frame, think about the next frame.’
Few would have been expecting this clash in the quarter-finals but Yan will take on Mitchell Mann in the last eight and the Chinese star is feeling confident.
‘I played Mitchell before, he’s a very good player, he won against Lyu Haotian [4-1 in the last 16]. But it’s a very good chance for me, I’ll play good.’
Yan has enjoyed a great time in this event before, becoming the youngest ranking event finalist ever when he reached the showpiece in 2017.
He lost in a deciding frame to Mark Williams in that contest, but he still has fond memories of Belfast, saying: ‘Yeah I’m enjoying it every time, every year.’
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