Luca Brecel and Zhao Xintong were both in a delighted mood as they reached the UK Championship final on Saturday in York.
Both Brecel and Zhao produced outstanding performances in the semi-finals at the Barbican Centre to beat Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins respectively.
“I feel unbelievable. It really is a dream,” 26 year-old Brecel said on the BBC in the immediate aftermath of a 6-4 victory in which he compiled a magnificent four century breaks.
“I was so nervous after the game when I beat Anthony (Hamilton) yesterday – I could only think about the final and winning the semi-final.”
“I was so nervous yesterday night, the whole night I couldn’t really sleep. I was just dreaming of the final and now it’s true, it’s crazy.
“I was composed out there (in the arena). I wasn’t thinking too much, I played relaxed and that’s my best game so I tried to just forget about everything, and I just played awesome today.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on the snooker table by far – even better than winning in China because there was no one there, and this was such a big crowd.
“The whole game I felt so good. I haven’t been playing my best this whole tournament, but I’ve been winning a lot. This game I played unbelievable I think and I only missed a few.
“I actually made a conscious decision before the season to give my opponents less chances. Sometimes it’s difficult, because you see a long one and think ‘should I go for it’, but now I just try to play the right shot every time.”
Zhao, who Brecel admitted is his “favourite player by far”, was in equally hot form with the 24 year-old contributing breaks of 100, 81, 78 (x3), and 74 in a 6-1 defeat of Hawkins.
“This is a great match for me,” a smiling Zhao told the World Snooker Tour in his post-match press conference on Saturday evening.
“It was very important for me and I think I played well today. I am very happy for that, I just wanted to take it easy and I did it.”
“We are so close to becoming the UK Championship champion, so tomorrow will be a huge match. I think it’s going to be very nice to watch and I want to try my best.
“It’s an important tournament for me and this is my first time in the final. I don’t want to think about it too much, because I want to try my best and win the title.”
Brecel and Zhao will play for a maiden Triple Crown title, with £200,000 on offer for the champion and the added bonus of a place in the Masters at stake as well.
Live coverage of the UK Championship is on the BBC and Eurosport. Click here for other available options around the world.
Featured photo credit: WST