Phil Haigh ✍️
Sam Craigie picked up one of the biggest wins of his career as he beat Zhao Xintong 6-2 in the last 32 of the UK Championship, ending the defending champion’s campaign very early.
Zhao upset the odds to lift the trophy last season but has become the first top 16 player out of the event this time around after an under-par performance at the Barbican in York.
Craigie looked good, making a century in the final frame, having made three half-centuries, while Zhao did not manage any breaks of note.
It has been a tough time for Zhao after starting the season well, but suffering with Covid after travelling to the Hong Kong Masters and not yet managing to regain any kind of form since then.
However, the world number 47 will not care as he sets up a last 16 clash with Jimmy White or Ryan Day next week.
‘I feel okay, I knew I was playing well so I had some good spells in there and some bad ones, but it was a good win,’ Craigie told Eurosport.
‘It was brilliant towards the end, it’s something I hadn’t experienced before, that kind of support on the main table. I enjoyed it.’
The 28-year-old has long been seen as one of the brightest UK talents but has not quite been able to fulfil his potential yet, but this could be a turning point in his career.
Craigie looked good in qualifying, beating Joe O’Connor and Ian Burns in Sheffield to book his spot in York, where he has clearly kept his form going.
Craigie will be hoping that this win helps silence any doubters after complaining that he receives too much criticism from pundits and commentators for a perceived lack of dedication.
After beating Burns in qualifying he said: ‘I’d like to make an honourable mention to some of the commentators and pundits about my lack of dedication. Keep doubting.
‘It’s been going on for years, every match I play somebody has a little dig. I hope they enjoy doing it.’
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