Stephen Maguire was thoroughly impressed by Chinese newcomer Pang Junxu on Tuesday after the 20-year-old produced a huge upset to knock the Scot out of the UK Championship.
The youngster raced into a 3-0 lead over the former UK champion but Maguire settled and won five frames on the spin, including two centuries, and had his opponent on the ropes.
However, the inexperienced Pang showed incredible poise to win the final three frames with breaks of 102, 54 and 95 to book his place in the last 16.
Maguire was frustrated with his own display, but did not want to take anything away from the rising Chinese star, who played brilliantly.
‘That’s one way to throw a match away,’ said Maguire. ‘To be honest I shouldn’t have been in the match at the start, I was diabolical in the first few frames. He should have won more easily. I had false hope in the end.
‘He is a great player, I have no complaints about him. I’m thinking about having a break now over Christmas and not playing again until the Masters.’
Pang has now pulled off three big upsets, having downed Tom Ford and Noppon Saengkham, both by the same 6-4 scoreline, in the first two rounds.
The 20-year-old was largely unheralded before this season, earning a tour card through the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association (CBSA) tour and competing as a full-time professional for the first time.
He showed what he could do in the first rankinge event of the season, beating Ben Hancorn, Robbie Williams and Barry Hawkins at the European Masters before falling to Neil Robertson.
He now has the chance of reaching a first ranking quarter-final as he faces compatriot Lu Ning in the last 16 in Milton Keynes.
Pang’s victory wasn’t the only upset on Tuesday as Ricky Walden ousted Mark Williams 6-5 to set up a clash with Judd Trump in the last 16.
Once ranked as high as six in the world, Walden is down at #46 after struggling with a back injury in recent years, but he feels he can rediscover his former glories.
‘My practice game is probably as good as it ever has been, but to try and bring that on to the match table is another story and a difficult thing to do,’ he said.
‘I’m pretty optimistic that it’s going to happen and I’m going to get back to winning tournaments. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but results like tonight help,
‘It has been a roller-coaster over the last few years. I went through mental torture, knowing that I had just plummeted off the face of the Earth because of something that wasn’t my fault. It was so difficult to deal with. Now that I am back playing well again, I feel like it’s a second chance.’
UK Championship last 16
Wednesday 02 December
13:00 Zhou Yuelong v John Higgins 13:00 Anthony McGill v Neil Robertson 19:00 Mark Selby v Barry Hawkins 19:00 Joe Perry v Jamie Jones
Thursday 03 December
13:00 Xiao Guodong v Jack Lisowski 13:00 Judd Trump v Ricky Walden 19:00 Graeme Dott v Kyren Wilson 19:00 Lu Ning v Pang Junxu
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