Fan Zhengyi beats Ronnie O’Sullivan to claim European Masters title

The 21-year-old world number 80 held his nerve to edge out the six-time world champion with a confident break of 92 in a final-frame decider.

Fan Zhengyi beat Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the European Masters (Tim Goode/PA)
Fan Zhengyi beat Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the European Masters (Tim Goode/PA)

Chinese youngster Fan Zhengyi claimed his first ranking title with a stunning 10-9 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the BetVictor European Masters.

The 21-year-old world number 80 held his nerve to edge out the six-time world champion with a confident break of 92 in a final-frame decider in Milton Keynes.

O’Sullivan had fought back from two frames behind to level three times, and then pulled back from 9-8 down to take the match to the wire, but never had control.

Fan, who knocked in back-to-back centuries earlier in the match, duly closed out a memorable win and O’Sullivan was generous in his assessment of his opponent’s performance.

“He’s a fantastic player, brilliant,” said O’Sullivan on Eurosport. “He was the better player all day. I tried to hang on and make a game of it – which I did in the end – but he deserved his victory.

“It’s great for snooker and it was a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to play a future world champion.”

O’Sullivan was not at his best and twice complained about movement in the auditorium, first by a spectator and later by a photographer.

O’Sullivan was not at his best in the final (Adam Davy/PA)

The 46-year-old needed to dig deep to keep himself in the match.

The first four frames were scrappy and shared 2-2 but Fan then struck out to claim a 4-2 lead after breaks of 63 and 78.

O’Sullivan pulled back to level at 4-4, taking the last frame of the first session with a break of 83, but twin centuries from Fan (135 and 100) early in the evening restored his two-frame advantage.

Again O’Sullivan clawed his way back to make it 6-6 as both players missed chances but Fan then took the next two. O’Sullivan kept the match alive with a sparkling 107 and then nicked a tight 16th frame, before the next two were shared to set up the decider.

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