Mark Davis recorded his biggest win in years by beating world champion Luca Brecel 6-3 in the International Championship on Monday.
The veteran Englishman established an early 4-0 lead as he punished a lacklustre start from the world number two.
Brecel took the following three frames after the mid-session interval to seemingly force his way back into the contest.
Yet Davis steadied himself superbly, winning the last couple of frames with breaks of 59 and 107 to reach the last 32 in Tianjin.
After losing to Joe Perry in dramatic circumstances at the World Championship qualifiers in April, Davis thought that his professional career was over.
The 51 year-old slipped outside the world’s top 64 in the official rankings, which under normal circumstances would have resulted in him losing his tour card.
But this year’s match-fixing scandal that ultimately led to the expulsion of ten Chinese players offered Davis a reprieve.
The former world number 12 had already shown signs of a return to form when he reached the last 32 of the English Open last month.
This triumph will provide him with even more confidence as he bids to reestablish himself on the circuit.
“It feels brilliant for me,” Mark Davis told the World Snooker Tour after completing the victory over the Belgian Bullet.
“I’ve certainly not had many wins over the last two or three seasons over players of the calibre of Luca – it’s fantastic.”
“I really enjoyed it. When you play world champions and these top players, I just try and enjoy it a little bit more.
“I know I’m coming towards the end of my career – hopefully a little while yet – but just trying to enjoy the match, especially against a world champion.
“I’ve struggled to do that over the years, and I think that helped me today.”
While Davis has enjoyed plenty of success in the Six Red World Championship, he has generally fallen short of acquiring silverware throughout his career.
After turning pro in 1991, it took until 2012 for him to reach a ranking event semi-final for the first time.
Then in 2018, Davis embarked on a maiden run to a final of a ranking tournament only to fall just short in a narrow 9-7 reverse against Stuart Bingham at the English Open.
Davis is realistic about his slim chances of etching his name onto a trophy, but he hasn’t given up on the goal altogether.
“It’s still there, but you’ve got to be realistic about things. Every year that goes by, it’s a little bit more of a pipe dream.”
“Let’s be real about it, there are so many good players. Winning your first in your fifties is a bit of an achievement.
“But listen, you never know. I’m playing really well in practice, arguably just as good as ever on certain days.
“You take that into a week, you get a little bit of run – I had a lot of run there in the first few frames against Luca, some ridiculous flukes.
“You need that, anyone needs that. Certainly, I do. I’ll never give up on it, but if it happens, it happens.
“If I finish my career and I don’t win one, I won’t lose any sleep over it. It is what it is.”
The loss for Brecel, meanwhile, ends the 28 year-old’s aspirations of becoming world number one for another week.
Elsewhere on day two in the International Championship, Zhang Anda produced an excellent performance to beat British Open champion Mark Williams 6-3.
Crucible semi-finalist Si Jiahui was downed following a tight battle with Jak Jones, while teenager Liam Pullen upset Noppon Saengkham in a decider.
Two-time former champion Mark Selby had little trouble, however, in his 6-2 defeat of Stuart Carrington.
Xiao Guodong and Dylan Emery also reached the last 32 of the competition, which boasts a top prize worth £175,000.
Later on Monday, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are among those back in action.
2023 International Championship
Round of 128 (bo11)
Judd Trump 6-0 Wang Xinzhong
Michael White 6-3 Himanshu Jain
Stephen Maguire 6-2 Peng Yisong
Joe O’Connor 6-1 Baipat Siripaporn
Ryan Day 6-1 Mink Nutcharut
Jackson Page 6-3 Liam Graham
Hossein Vafaei 6-1 Reanne Evans
Ross Muir 6-3 Wu Yize
Ben Woollaston 4-6 Wang Xinbo
Dylan Emery 6-3 Joe Perry
David Grace 6-2 Jenson Kendrick
John Higgins 6-1 Manasawin Phetmalaikul
Jordan Brown 6-5 Sean O’Sullivan
David Gilbert 6-0 James Cahill
Elliot Slessor 6-2 Hammad Miah
Kyren Wilson 6-3 Adam Duffy
Mark Selby 6-2 Muhammad Asif
Stuart Carrington 6-4 Xi Si
Jimmy Robertson 6-2 Anton Kazakov
Xiao Guodong 6-4 Ishpreet Singh Chadha
Marco Fu 6-4 Robert Milkins
Sanderson Lam 6-2 Andy Hicks
Tom Ford 6-4 Stan Moody
Cao Yupeng 6-0 Ashley Hugill
Jamie Jones 6-4 Ashley Carty
Ricky Walden 6-1 Jiang Jun
Tian Pengfei 6-3 Stephen Hendry
Barry Hawkins 6-0 Andrew Pagett
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-1 Andrew Higginson
Matthew Selt 6-1 Jimmy White
Oliver Lines 6-4 Lukas Kleckers
Mark Allen 6-2 Ma Hailong
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1 Ken Doherty
Mark Joyce 6-3 Andy Lee
Si Jiahui 6-5 Julien Leclercq
Jak Jones 6-2 Aaron Hill
Jack Lisowski 6-3 He Guoqiang
Scott Donaldson 6-4 Louis Heathcote
Anthony McGill 6-3 Alfie Burden
Sam Craigie 6-1 Rory Thor
Matthew Stevens 6-4 Liu Hongyu
Stuart Bingham 6-0 Xing Zihao
John Astley 6-5 Jamie Clarke
Ali Carter 6-2 Allan Taylor
Anthony Hamilton 6-0 Bai Yulu
Zhou Yuelong 6-0 Martin O’Donnell
Daniel Wells 6-2 Liam Highfield
Neil Robertson 6-4 Ryan Thomerson
Shaun Murphy 6-1 Andres Petrov
Dominic Dale 6-3 Oliver Brown
Chris Wakelin 6-0 Dean Young
Lyu Haotian 6-5 David Lilley
Mark Williams 6-0 Rebecca Kenna
Zhang Anda 6-3 Alexander Ursenbacher
Noppon Saengkham 6-3 Victor Sarkis
Liam Pullen 6-4 Graeme Dott
Robbie Williams 6-3 Ben Mertens
Gary Wilson 6-0 Mohamed Ibrahim
Long Zehuang 6-5 Yuan Sijun
Ding Junhui 6-1 Ian Burns
Pang Junxu 6-3 Zak Surety
Fan Zhengyi 6-2 Mostafa Dorgham
Mark Davis 6-4 Rod Lawler
Luca Brecel 6-2 Daniel Womersley
Round of 64 (bo11)
Judd Trump 6-0 Michael White
Stephen Maguire 6-4 Joe O’Connor
Ryan Day 6-5 Jackson Page
Hossein Vafaei 5-6 Ross Muir
Wang Xinbo 4-6 Dylan Emery
David Grace 1-6 John Higgins
Jordan Brown 6-3 David Gilbert
Elliot Slessor 2-6 Kyren Wilson
Mark Selby 6-2 Stuart Carrington
Jimmy Robertson 3-6 Xiao Guodong
Marco Fu 6-0 Sanderson Lam
Tom Ford 6-0 Cao Yupeng
Jamie Jones 3-6 Ricky Walden
Tian Pengfei 0-6 Barry Hawkins
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-5 Matthew Selt
Oliver Lines 3-6 Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 Mark Joyce
Si Jiahui 4-6 Jak Jones
Jack Lisowski 6-4 Scott Donaldson
Anthony McGill 6-3 Sam Craigie
Matthew Stevens 5-6 Stuart Bingham
John Astley 5-6 Ali Carter
Anthony Hamilton 0-6 Zhou Yuelong
Daniel Wells 6-1 Neil Robertson
Shaun Murphy 3-6 Dominic Dale
Chris Wakelin 1-6 Lyu Haotian
Mark Williams 3-6 Zhang Anda
Noppon Saengkham 5-6 Liam Pullen
Robbie Williams 4-6 Gary Wilson
Long Zehuang 4-6 Ding Junhui
Pang Junxu 6-5 Fan Zhengyi
Mark Davis 6-3 Luca Brecel
Round of 32 (bo11)
Judd Trump 3-6 Stephen Maguire
Ryan Day 6-1 Ross Muir
Dylan Emery 1-6 John Higgins
Jordan Brown 6-4 Kyren Wilson
Mark Selby 6-2 Xiao Guodong
Marco Fu 3-6 Tom Ford
Ricky Walden 4-6 Barry Hawkins
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-3 Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-4 Jak Jones
Jack Lisowski 2-6 Anthony McGill
Stuart Bingham 4-6 Ali Carter
Zhou Yuelong 1-6 Daniel Wells
Dominic Dale 3-6 Lyu Haotian
Zhang Anda 6-3 Liam Pullen
Gary Wilson 5-6 Ding Junhui
Pang Junxu 6-3 Mark Davis
Round of 16 (bo11)
Stephen Maguire 6-4 Ryan Day
John Higgins 3-6 Jordan Brown
Mark Selby 3-6 Tom Ford
Barry Hawkins 6-5 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-2 Anthony McGill
Ali Carter 6-1 Daniel Wells
Lyu Haotian 3-6 Zhang Anda
Ding Junhui 6-2 Pang Junxu
Stephen Maguire 5-6 Jordan Brown
Tom Ford 6-4 Barry Hawkins
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-4 Ali Carter
Zhang Anda 6-3 Ding Junhui
Jordan Brown 6-9 Tom Ford
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-9 Zhang Anda
Tom Ford 6-10 Zhang Anda
Featured photo credit: WST