Zhou Yuelong Downs Mark Selby

Mark Selby exited the China Championship in the last 32 after a 5-4 defeat to home hopeful Zhou Yuelong on Friday.

Zhou Yuelong (TC)
Zhou Yuelong. Photo credit: Tai Chengzhe

The world number one was competing in a first ranking event since he captured his third world crown back in May, and was made to pay for his rustiness as 19 year-old Zhou secured arguably the biggest victory of his young career.

Selby was left to rue a pair of similar pressure brown balls, uncharacteristically missed in each of the last two frames when he had opportunities in both to clear for the match.

Zhou didn’t look particularly pleased with his performance upon sinking the winning pink but began the match well by going 2-0 clear with the aid of a wonderful 124.

The encounter subsequently became a bit of a war of attrition but Zhou just about held his nerve and marches on into the last 16 in Guangzhou.

The former World Cup champion is one of the sport’s hottest teenage talents at the moment, highlighted by his rapid rise into the world’s top 32 in the rankings.

Zhou will surely fancy his chances of progressing to what would only be his second ranking event quarter-final appearance when he meets Martin Gould in the third round on Saturday.

Gould fought back from 2-0 down to overcome fellow Englishman Mark Joyce 5-2 in a mostly scrappy affair.

Meanwhile, Ronnie O’Sullivan similarly responded well to a 2-0 deficit, coming from behind to dispatch of David Gilbert 5-3.

The five-time world champion, who hasn’t won a ranking event trophy since the 2016 Welsh Open, wasn’t anywhere near his best but perhaps had his mind elsewhere after his wife Laila Rouass was caught up in the Barcelona attack last night.

O’Sullivan did knock in a majestic 130 that got him going in the tie and was able to avoid a decider by pinching the eighth frame on the black.

Elsewhere, Shaun Murphy progressed after only a handful of minutes out in the arena after opponent Anthony Hamilton unfortunately had to withdraw because of a neck injury.

By contrast, Ali Carter survived a titanic tussle with David Grace that went the distance despite the fact that at one point the “Captain” appeared as though he was going to knock himself out.

Carter, well known for his mannerisms when things aren’t going well, threw away a 3-1 advantage and duly proceeded to punch himself several times in the head after Grace made it three frames apiece.

The latter then moved in front and had a big opportunity in the penultimate frame to take the spoils but Carter’s temperament just about prevailed to see him into the last 16.

There, the defending World Open champion will play Mark Davis, who conjured up his best victory in a while by ousting Barry Hawkins 5-3.

Riga Masters runner-up Stephen Maguire continued his fine early season form with a 5-1 defeat of Yan Bingtao while Kurt Maflin couldn’t handle the Ferginator as Fergal O’Brien ran out a 5-2 victor over the visibly frustrated Norwegian.

Later this evening, crowd favourite Ding Junhui plays Alan McManus in a repeat of their 2016 World Championship semi-final, while defending champion John Higgins and world number three Judd Trump are also among those in action.

Click here to view the draw.

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