Ding Junhui delighted home spectators at Beijing's Haidian Stadium yesterday and an estimated television audience of 100 million by beating Stephen Hendry to win the China Open.
Only two days after his 18th birthday, Ding became the second-youngest player to capture a world-ranking title - after Ronnie O'Sullivan - and the first wild-card entry ever to lift one of snooker's major trophies with a stunning 9-5 victory.
Ding will not receive a penny for his triumph, however, even though the event carried £30,000 prize-money for the champion. As a wild card he is entitled to nothing. He withdrew from the qualifying competition in January to accept wild-card status.
Even so, Ding was overjoyed to record the one of the most significant results for the sport's global development in its history.
"I didn't feel under any pressure because I looked at it as a practice match, to learn from Stephen," Ding said.
Ding rallied from a poor start to claim eight of the closing nine frames. "Ding's a great talent," Hendry said. "And what he's done in front of his home crowd is a real achievement."
Ding beat Peter Ebdon 5-0 in the last 32 and Ken Doherty 6-0 in the semi-finals, but the 80-1 pre-tournament outsider appeared to have met his match in Hendry, who took a commanding 4-1 lead.
However, Ding began to find his range, Hendry's safety developed holes and the complexion of the match changed when his rival came back to end the opening session at 4-4.
Ding moved 5-4 ahead on the restart with a run of 107, and remained in front at 6-5 after a pair of scrappy frames and took a 7-5 advantage with a cool 53 clearance to pink after another blunder by Hendry.
By now, Hendry was ragged. Leading by 19 in frame 13 and in the kind of scoring territory he usually relishes, he missed a straightforward pink to a middle pocket. Ding pounced with an 87 clearance and shortly afterwards wrapped up a remarkable win with a run of 103.Reuse content