Zhang Anda, nicknamed the ‘Mighty Mouse’, produced a sensational finish to beat Ricky Walden 10-8 and qualify for the final stages of the Betfred.com World Championship in Sheffield tonight.
The diminutive Zhang, just 18, ended the contest with successive breaks of 134 and 103 to cause a huge upset.
Last week, he was driven past the Crucible Theatre and had no idea what the building was. He’ll find out when the 17-day snooker marathon gets underway on April 17.
“I didn’t feel nervous at all. I was just concentrating so hard on the match,” said Zhang, who practises at the Grove in Romford, also the base for Ronnie O’Sullivan.
“I have practised with Ronnie and even watching him play can help you,” he said.
Zhang was heading for main tour relegation having started the qualifiers 79th in the provisional rankings. He may still fall off the circuit but has provided proof of his potential with victories over Craig Steadman, John Parrott, Andrew Higginson and now Walden, whose hopes of joining the elite top 16 were dashed by the defeat.
But Walden, who broke down on a break of 32 in the 18th frame, sportingly led the applause after Zhang’s grandstand finish.
The Chinese finds himself in the hat for Thursday’s draw alongside some of snooker’s all time greats, including Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, O’Sullivan and defending champion John Higgins as well as compatriots Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo.