Yan Bingtao, the 14-year-old prodigy from China, created history by becoming the youngest player to win the men's title in the IBSF World Snooker Championship after he overcame Pakistani's Muhammad Sajjad 8-7 in a cliff-hanger final, here on Saturday.
In a match that kept the result in suspense, both Bingtao and 28-year-old Sajjad exhibited snooker of highest class, but eventually, it boiled down to nerves in the 15th frame where the Pakistani paid the price for a loose shot that broke the bunch and the Chinese teenager made a break of 60 to clinch the crown.
It was befitting that Bingtao, showing maturity that belied his tender age, won the title as he looked the better player while Sajjad who could not reproduce his semifinal form, was left heart-broken, especially after playing so well right until the final frame when he was punished for a bad shot.
Earlier in the day, Wendy Jans of Belgium won her fourth women's title and third on the trot when she beat Russia's Anastasia Nachaeva 5-2 in the final while Phisit Chandsri (Thailand) retained the Masters crown with a hard-fought 6-5 win over Welshman Darren Morgan. The first session of seven frames in the men's final was more of a hit-and-run with neither player able to settle into a consistent rhythm as their play alternated between high class and ordinary. There were misses galore from both as they fought hard for every point.
Bingtao was first off the blocks after Sajjad, who opened with an in-off but followed it up with a break of 44 on is subsequent visit, squandered a 11-point lead with the reds off the table. Bingtao made a delightful 27 clearance to go 1-0 up.
Sajjad responded strongly to take the second frame, aided by small breaks with Bingtao unable to cash in on openings. The Pakistani took 2-1 lead with runs of 32 and 43, and looked poised to take the fourth frame too when he missed a top pocket red to leave Bingtao on. The Chinese teenager crafted a nice break of 55 and went on to win the frame for 2-2.
Sajjad and Bingtao shared the next two frames with the Chinese posting a break of 77 in the fifth and the Pakistani replying with a 79 in the sixth. Bingtao then profited on Sajjad's miss on the long green and quickly cleared to black to go into the interval leading 4-3.
On resumption, Sajjad quickly equalised with a break of 73 which Bingtao replied with a 76 and followed it up by taking the 10th frame for a 6-4 lead.
However, the Pakistani hit back by winning the next three frames for a 7-6 advantage, including the 11th on a re-spotted black after Bingtao had miscued on the pink when on 60 break and Sajjad responded with 65 clearance to tie the scores. A 60 clearance by Sajjad took him to a 7- 6 lead, but again Bingtao caught up with small breaks to make it 7-7 and push the match into the decider where the Pakistani blundered at the start for the Chinese to punish him with a match-winning run of 60.
In the women's final, Jans was far too good for the 21-year old Nechaeva who, after a bright start when she made a break of 44 in the first frame, gradually faded from the contest as the Belgian ace notched runs of 40, 43 and 30 to dominate the final to extend her unbeaten run against the Russian whom she had beaten twice in the finals of the European Championships in 2013 and 2014.
"I'm very happy to win my fourth title. It was not very easy and it is getting difficult every year with more young players coming up," said the modest Jans who hails from the town Bree while she agreed that her semi-final match against double World champion Ng On Yee (Hong Kong) was virtually the final as she won 4-1.
"Yes, I thought my match with On Yee was the final. I didn't expect to win so easily and may be, I was a bit lucky. And in the final, I made some small breaks, but didn't play all that well," add Jans who runs a snooker parlour in her hometown.
The results (all finals):
Men (Best of 15 frames) - Yan Bingtao (China) bt Muhammad Sajjad (Pakistan) 8-7 (71-59, 16-81, 22-75, 67 (61)-53, 77 (77)-13, 4-93 (79)-63-38, 00-86 (73), 76 (76)-09, 70-37, 65 (60)-72 (50), 38-76, 16-107 (60), 72-21, 61 (60)-15).
Women (Best of 9 frames) - Wendy Jans (Belgium) bt Anastasia Nechaeva (Russia) 5-2 (31-76 (44), 72 (42)-02, 25-65, 74 (40)-35, 72 (43)-32, 82 (38)-23, 60-31).
Masters (Best of 11 frames) - Phisit Chandsri (Thailand) bt Darren Morgan (Wales) 6-5 (67-59, 73-15, 25-64, 18-55, 16-71, 30-58, (49)81-29, 65-44, 57-28, 07-64 (63), (58)72-34).