He is still a teenager and only turned professional a few months ago. With just one century to his name on tour and unseeded, nobody would have expected the relatively unknown Xu Si to reach the Indian Open semi-finals.
Maguire, Brecel and Perry fall short
Yet his progress should not come as a surprise after a breakthrough season last year. After defeating former World champion Mark Williams in the last 64 of the International Championship, he saw off Alexander Ursenbacher to win the World Under-21 Snooker Championship and earn a two-year tour card.
Xu set to work in the opening round but his 4-0 demolition of Robin Hull went unnoticed as some big names crumbled in the first days of action. Stephen Maguire was stunned by Akani Songsermsawad, whilst Luca Brecel was seen off by Gary Wilson just weeks after winning his first ranking title. Drama unfolded elsewhere as Tian Pengfei recovered from 3-0 down to win 4-3 against Tom Ford before the unseeded Martin O’Donnell stunned Mike Dunn on the final black.
The young Chinese hotshot was dealt a handy draw in the second round but he only edged through against fellow unseeded player Sean O’Sullivan. David Gilbert won four frames in a row to defeat Kurt Maflin whilst Elliot Slessor stunned former top ten player Joe Perry.
Slessor, Xu and Highfield create history
Yet it was results in the last sixteen that really raised eyebrows across the globe. Xu defeated Ricky Walden 4-3 who continues to struggle for form, whilst number 74 seed Slessor shocked former World champion Shaun Murphy 4-1. The duo reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time and were joined by number 58 seed Liam Highfield.
The final eight was a step too far for both Highfield and Slessor who lost to John Higgins and Mark King respectively. However, Xu added himself to the growing list of Chinese snooker talents as he whitewashed David Gilbert in one of the greatest victories of his short career.
The result sets up a dream semi-final tie against the highest-ranked player in the competition, multi-World champion John Higgins. The other final four contest sees number twelve seed Mark King take on defending champion Anthony McGill who has dropped just three frames in four matches.
Pundits will expect to see a Scottish final between Higgins and McGill but snooker continues to throw up numerous shocks in every tournament. Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s match for Xu, this will be a week to remember for a long time.