Ryan Day secured his second ranking title of the campaign after a 4-0 victory over Cao Yupeng in the final of the Gibraltar Open on Sunday.
The Welshman, who after years of near misses finally captured his maiden ranking event trophy at the Riga Masters last summer, was in mostly dominant form throughout the final day of action on the Iberian Peninsula.
Day recorded back-to-back 4-1 victories over Fang Xiongman and Joe Perry before racing into a 3-0 lead against Scott Donaldson in the semi-finals.
Scotland’s Donaldson had earlier fought back from 3-0 down to beat Alfie Burden in a dramatic last 16 contest on the final black and it looked like lightning could strike twice when the 23 year-old fired in runs of 93, 67, and 60 to force a decider with Day.
However, experience finally told with Day knocking in a timely 61 break in the last frame to book his place in the final, which he went on to dominate.
Cao could only muster 24 points as Day reeled off tallies of 58, 72, and 100 to lift the trophy and collect the £25,000 in prize money.
The pay packet lifts the 37 year-old up to 17th on the provisional world rankings list, with Masters champion Mark Allen barely holding onto the 16th and final automatic spot for the upcoming World Championship in Sheffield.
In the Northern Irishman’s favour, though, is the fact that Day has failed to qualify for the lucrative China Open so the latter must rely on a strong display in this month’s Players Championship to have any chance of forcing his way into the elite bracket in time for the Crucible.
For now, Day won’t be too concerned about that as he has firmly put to bed any suspicions that he was an underachiever who predominantly came up short at the business end of tournaments.
Two titles in a single campaign, regardless if they were both mostly contested under the guise of the sprint best of seven frame format, is an achievement that deserves to be recognised.
Indeed, he joins Snooker’s Trinity of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, and John Higgins as the only multiple champions of ranking events from this term – decent company to be alongside.
For Cao, the defeat at the death in the Victoria Stadium counted as a double whammy because not only did he lose a second ranking event final in three months, but he also fell just shy of qualifying for the Players Championship on the one-year list of earnings.
The Chinese required the title in order to squeeze into the top 16, which will come as significant relief to Graeme Dott who just about holds on to reach Llandudno.
Cao had edged Lee Walker in the last four, with the Welshman embarking on a surprise run to that stage of a ranking tournament for the first time in his career at the age of 42, but had nothing left to offer in the final against an in-form Day.
This year’s edition of the Gibraltar Open concluded the three-year contract that had been agreed back in 2015 and it would be a surprise to many if the players return to the Rock again next year.
The event has a modest prize fund in comparison to the other tournaments on the calendar and, in general, it was very badly attended every year.
With so many other countries and territories with bigger fan bases crying out for a tournament to be staged, one would think that we’ve likely seen the last of Gibraltar for a while.