Oct 6 2008 By Paul Wheelock
FLINTSHIRE potter Ricky Walden sensationally lived up to his billing as one of the best young players on the planet yesterday when he beat world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of the Shanghai Masters.
The 25-year-old qualifier from Bagillt claimed his first ranking tournament title by edging the best-of-19-frame thriller at the Grand Stage 10-8.
In doing so he denied the defending world and Northern Ireland Trophy champion the chance to become the first player since Stephen Hendry MBE 15 years ago to win three consecutive ranking events.
World number 35 Walden, who netted a £52,000 winners’ cheque, said: "I'm thrilled to bits to win my first tournament. I hope I can go on and achieve more now. I want to get into the top 16 and win more tournaments."
The ex-Flint High School student, who learned his trade in the Deeside Snooker League, missed a clear chance to seal the showpiece when he was 9-7 up.
But, after O’Sullivan won the 17th frame, he bounced back with a superb 105 to complete one of the greatest shocks snooker has seen in years.
Three-time world champion O’Sullivan, 32, said: "I played ok this afternoon but tonight I wasn’t at the races, I was poor. Ricky played well. He’s been a good player for a while so I’m glad he’s won something."
Former World Snooker Young Player of Distinction Walden, whose previous best performance was a quarter-final reverse to seven-time world champion Hendry in the China Open three years ago, now moves up to 17th in the provisional rankings.
He defeated Hendry, world number 10 Neil Robertson, six-time world champion Steve Davis and world number four Mark Selby on his way to the final.
ON FRIDAY – See The Flintshire Chronicle for more on Ricky’s incredible victory.