Zhao Xintong produced a stirring, classy fightback to beat Jack Lisowski 6-2 at the quarter-final stage of the UK Championship.
The 24-year-old made runs of 51, 74, 56, 56 and 83 as he fought back from 2-0 to win six frames in succession to progress to a maiden UK Championship semi-final.
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Zhao’s potting is one of the reasons why he is so highly regarded, and it came as a surprise when he missed a blue in the first frame - which allowed Lisowski to step in and secure the opener with a break of 79.
Lisowski followed the 79 with a 63 in the second, but did not cross the line and Zhao had a chance to counter. He got to 43 but made a mess of getting from black to yellow - snookering himself behind the pink. He escaped from the snooker, but left it over the pocket for his opponent to take the second frame.
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The third frame was a catalogue of errors, and it was appropriate that a shocking safety shot on the brown by Lisowski handed the opening for Zhao to get on the board.
As in the third, Lisowski passed up a host of chances to close out the fourth and Zhao got over the line after potting the final red and the colours up to and including the pink.
Zhao was off colour for the best part of three frames, as such it was a surprise he went into the interval level at 2-2. Lisowski walked out of the arena at the end of the mini-session with a stern look on his face, as he could arguably have been four frames to the good.
Lisowski looked like the player from the first two frames upon the resumption, as he got in the balls and made an effortless break of 61. However, he switched hands for a green and it failed to drop.
Zhao had work to do when coming to the table. He picked off the easy reds, rolled in an excellent pot along the bottom rail and a tight one into the right middle. The colours were not simple, but he took them all to get his nose in front for the first time in the match with a clearance of 74.
With a 56-point lead in the sixth frame, Zhao found himself stuck inside a pack of reds and could only gently roll away from them to give Lisowski a chance to build a break of his own, but he failed to sink a long, difficult red, before taking the second opportunity on offer.
Unfortunately for the world number 15, he was unable to apply any scoreboard pressure to Zhao, who added another frame to stretch his lead to two, and that lead swiftly became three courtesy of another 56, one frame from qualifying for the semi-finals.
Lisowski, attempting to wrestle back momentum, took on an ambitious red at the start of the eighth, and Zhao pounced, compiling an 83 to seal a hugely impressive showing to make a first UK Championship semi-final where he will face Barry Hawkins, who swept past Andy Hicks with a 6-1 win in their quarter-final.
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