Phil Haigh ✍️
Iulian Boiko picked up his first ever win in the World Snooker Championship on Wednesday, with the Ukrainian teenager hoping that it spread some happiness at home amid the turmoil in the country.
The 16-year-old beat former Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou 6-4 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, keeping his dream alive of a first appearance at the Crucible.
It was an impressive win over his much more experienced opponent and comes in clearly very difficult times for the youngster, who has loved ones living through war in Ukraine.
Boiko hopes that he has put a smile on some faces back home and that he can continue to do so in the next round of qualifying against David Grace.
‘Certainly it has been very tough times for us with the war,’ Boiko told WST. ‘I hope I made some people happier today.
‘I think I have played a brilliant match. It wasn’t my best performance, but I’m still very happy to get the win and I hope I will have the momentum for the next round.’
Remarkably, Boiko made his first ever century as a professional in the final frame of the win over Georgiou, knocking in a break of exactly 100 to win the match.
The talented teenager is regularly banging in the big breaks in practice and now hopes that this will see him repeat the feat consistently on the pro tour.
‘The last frame was really very nervy for me. Michael had a couple of chances in the last frame and didn’t manage to get a good run,’ he said. ‘I was really nervous, but composed at the same time.
‘It was one of my best breaks probably, and it was my highest break on the main tour.
‘I know what I’m capable of in practice. I make century breaks and total clearances almost every day, every match then I play in a tournament and I can’t make a 50 break.
‘I’m just waiting for the time I’m as confident in tournaments as I am in practice.’
Boiko has been showing signs of improvement in recent weeks after a difficult first two years on tour, winning matches in the Welsh Open and Turkish Masters, but this is his biggest victory to date.
The 16-year-old has been working at Victoria’s Academy in Sheffield, where the likes of Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao and Fan Zhengyi are based and enjoying great success.
Victoria Shi, who runs the academy, wrote on Twitter: ‘Big congratulations for our academy based Ukraine player @BoikoIulian won his first World Championship match, since you joined the academy last year you are working so hard and your break-building better everyday we are so proud of you!’
She added: ‘Iulian last few weeks made at least three 147 breaks!’
Boiko has another tough task ahead of him on Friday afternoon in the next round of qualifying against former UK Championship semi-finalist Grace.
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