Phil Haigh ✍️
Luca Brecel has won the first ranking event of the 2022/23 season by beating Lu Ning in the final of Championship League Snooker.
It is the third ranking title of the Belgian Bullet’s career as he continues the winning form he showed last campaign when he won the Scottish Open and reached the UK Championship final.
It looked unlikely for Brecel in the final game of his third group on Friday when he needed to beat Zhao Xintong 3-0 to make the final, but that’s exactly what he did, whitewashing the man he lost to in last year’s UK Championship showpiece.
Lifting the first trophy of the season, as well as winning his only game in another tournament so far this campaign, and it has been the dream start for the 27-year-old, who picks up a total of £33,000 for his efforts in the Championship League.
‘I cant describe it, it’s surreal,’ Brecel told Dave Hendon on Free Sports. ‘It feels fantastic, I played so well the whole tournament, I felt like I was playing in practice, so that’s always good.
‘I really enjoyed it. But to be here as a winner is strange, because I could have lost the last game [against Zhao], I had to win 3-0, it’s crazy.
‘It’s unbelievable, this is all you can wish for. It’s the best start you can hope for, so it’s amazing and I can’t wait to play the next tournament in Germany.’
There was an emotional moment after Brecel lifted the trophy as he hugged his father Carlo, his biggest supporter who is a regular face on the snooker circuit, but missed his two previous ranking wins.
‘Fantastic. It’s also the first time with him when I win a trophy, all the other time I was alone, so this one’s for him,’ said Luca.
Lu Ning will leave disappointed, but a run to his first ranking final is encouraging for the 28-year-old, who beat Stuart Bingham and Pang Junxu in his final group, along with a draw against Ricky Walden securing his progress to the final.
Things could have been so different for Lu in the final after he made a break of 67 in the opening frame only to lose it by a single point, but seemed to have recovered with another half-century in the second to level up.
However, Brecel is a sublime break-builder when on song and he produced two visits of 72 and 100 to get his hands on the trophy.
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