Chinese teenager Si Jiahui held off Shaun Murphy’s late charge to prevail in a nail-biting decider as the first round of the UK Championship got under way in York on Tuesday.
Former champion Murphy had been a huge favourite to progress, but the amateur top-up took advantage of a sloppy early display to orchestrate a commanding 5-1 advantage.
With an impressive victory within his grasp, the 19 year-old suddenly faltered and allowed Crucible finalist Murphy in for a reprieve with the sixth seed duly forcing his way back into contention.
A deciding frame was then needed to settle the affair, but despite boasting two decades worth of extra Main Tour experience, Murphy couldn’t complete the turnaround.
Si Jiahui, who was a professional player until the end of last season when he dropped off the circuit following his debut stint, reached the final of Q Tour Event 1 last weekend and has evidently carried forward some of the confidence garnered from that run into this UK Championship.
The young competitor will face Dominic Dale in the last 64 of the competition after the veteran Welshman overcame Ashley Carty on day one.
Meanwhile, John Higgins and Kyren Wilson were among the top-16 seeds who managed to emerge unscathed from their initial challenges at the Barbican Centre.
Higgins bounced back from his third straight defeat in a final this season with a comprehensive 6-1 thrashing of Michael Georgiou, while Wilson ousted Soheil Vahedi with a 6-2 scoreline.
Scottish duo Stephen Maguire and Anthony McGill also advanced to the second round with respective triumphs against Sanderson Lam and Iulian Boiko.
Zhou Yuelong, chasing a spot at the prestigious Masters in January, hammered Chen Zifan 6-1, and there were victories for his fellow Chinese Li Hang and Wu Yize as well.
Former UK Championship semi-finalists Tom Ford and David Grace enjoyed relatively routine passages through to the next stage, while Jak Jones, Chris Wakelin, and Mark Joyce were among the others to progress.
On Wednesday, the first round continues with a hectic schedule and the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, and Ding Junhui entering the fray.
Live coverage of the first round is available on Eurosport. Other options are available around the world with more details on the World Snooker Tour website.
Featured photo credit: WST