JAMES Cahill pulled off one of the biggest shocks in recent Coral UK Championship history by knocking out two-time winner Ding Junhui at 12.40am on Wednesday morning.
The 18-year-old from Blackpool, in his second year as a professional and ranked No100 in the world, claimed a famous 6-5 win after almost losing a 5-1 lead.
But Cahill showed tremendous nerve and composure in the decider having lost four frames in a row, one with Ding having required three snookers, and he will be back later on Wednesday evening at York’s Barbican Centre to take on Mark Davis in the last 16.
Cahill had until now been best known for being the nephew of Stephen Hendry’s wife, but with this success started to make some of his own history and headlines.
Until now his best result had been a win over John Higgins at the Paul Hunter Classic, but ending the title hopes of world No3 Ding has comprehensively eclipsed that achievement.
It is the best run of Cahill’s career by a distance in a major tournament, and the manner of the win will stand him in excellent stead in the months and years to come.
He said: “I had a chance to win 6-1, and then obviously again at 5-4. It is the worst feeling in the world when someone is coming back at you.
“It is rare you lose frames from three snookers up but it does happen, then when he got in in the last frame I thought here we go – but he missed.
“I was just trying to get over the line, late as it was. He just started missing a few balls after the first frame, and I thought I had a chance in the match.
“I am so glad to win, it is relief. If I had lost from 5-1 I wouldn’t have been getting over it tonight, that’s for sure.
“I think my family were going through it as much as I was sitting there – but hopefully the tournament doesn’t end here. I have beaten some good players.
“If I can climb the rankings I may get some easier draws, it is tough draws all the time where I was, but it is all about confidence.”
Ding said: “I didn’t play well the whole match, and it was maybe only inexperience that meant he didn’t win before the deciding frame.
“He gave me some chances, but he played very well overall today and looked a much different player to when I played him before.”
Cahill might easily have won 6-1, and then looked home and hosed in frame 10 at 5-4 with Ding needing three snookers. But some inexperience saw the teenager concede a free ball, leaving the world No3 the chance to steal the frame and level at 5-5.
Ding was in first in the decider but after four reds and blacks, but a break of 56 from Cahill put him in the driving seat and a great pot on the second-last red helped get him over the line, with Ding unable to repeat the three snookers trick.
Photograph by Monique Limbos