Luca Brecel produced an excellent tactical display to see off Shaun Murphy in the final of the China Championship. The 22-year old's maiden ranking event success will go down in the history books as the first player from mainland Europe to achieve such a feat.
Brecel fights back after falling 3-1 behind
After a fascinating week in Guangzhou, it will come as no surprise that a player ranked outside the top 20 at the start of the event went on to win the competition. Yet Brecel had to work hard against number eight seed Murphy who had gained momentum in the latter rounds of the tournament.
The 2005 World Champion stormed into an early advantage as breaks of 55 and 68 gave Murphy the opening two frames. Brecel responded with a 64 in frame three before Murphy restored his cushion after contributing a match-high 107 in a high-quality opening to the contest.
Yet Brecel's game is made up of grit and determination and he turned to those attributes for the remainder of the session. Four successive frame wins, with only one break above 50 (78), gave the Belgian an advantage before Murphy pulled a tight frame back by only four points before the interval.
Patient play pays off
England's Murphy was unable to use the break to his advantage and lost the first two frames of the second session to fall 7-4 behind. He eventually secured some time at the table to formulate a break of 77 before frame 13 proved to be a pivotal point in the contest.
Murphy appeared to be pulling the gap back to just one frame before a mistake on the baulk colours gave Brecel an opening. The young starlet took his opportunity and secured an 8-5 lead after potting the black to win the frame by just one point.
Seven-time ranking event winner Murphy had no response and Brecel saw out the greatest moment of his career thus far with two more tactical successes. The result earned him a place in the top sixteen of the rankings and a healthy cheque of £150,000.