Dan Gibbs ✍️
Fan Zhengyi stunned his ‘idol’ Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the BetVictor European Masters in a thrilling final.
The Chinese star, who had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event, put in the performance of his life to beat the six-time world champion 10-9 to win his first pro title.
Fan, who went into the tournament as the world No.80 delivered a break of 92 in the deciding frame to down ‘The Rocket’ and pick up the £80,000 on offer to the winner.
Fan admitted it was his ‘dream come true’ to play O’Sullivan, let alone achieve a win.
‘Playing against Ronnie in the final already made my dream come true because Ronnie is every Chinese player’s idol,’ he said.
‘Me, [Zhao] Xintong, [Yan] Bingtao, because Ronnie is always so generous to the Chinese players and help them all the time.
‘So happy to play Ronnie and learn from him.’
O’Sullivan was equally as classy in his words of praise for the 21 year-old, who has now moved up to 31st in the world rankings.
Former World Under-21 champion Fan becomes the fifth player from mainland China to win a ranking title, joining Yan, Zhao, Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo.
‘Fantastic player. Brilliant, brilliant,’ O’Sullivan said.
‘He played some great safety, great break-building, amazing pots, good under pressure, he was the better player all day.
‘I just tried to hang onto him and make a game of it, which I did in the end but he was the better player, deserves his victory.
’21, brilliant, fantastic. I think they’re all being inspired by each other at the moment.
‘You’ve got Bingtao, Xintong, this lad here, there’s a couple more lurking around somewhere. They’re just pushing each other on, a bit like [Roger] Federer, [Rafael] Nadal, [Novak] Djokovic have done, they all work harder because they know the competition is that good.
‘Great for Chinese snooker, great for these young guys, great for snooker and a pleasure to watch, pleasure to play a future world champion today.’
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