IT doesn’t matter how long you play snooker, if the example of Fergal O’Brien in Shanghai is anything to go by you can still use acquired knowledge to reach new goals.

The 42-year-old from Dublin came through where others including Marco Fu had come to grief against 17-year-old wildcard hotshot Zhao Xintong.

That 5-3 win means world No29 O’Brien is into his first ever ranking quarter-final in China, where he admitted he had struggled to cope with the travel and jetlag all his career.

And it was also a first time into the last eight since reaching the final of the Northern Ireland Trophy more than seven years ago.

But in his 24th year as a professional O’Brien, who now faces world champion Mark Selby, revealed that he had consciously tried to do things differently for this trip and any further events in China this season.

World No29 O’Brien said: “The ranking quarter-finals don’t come along every day now – and obviously never before in China.

“I have done a few things differently for this trip, and arrived a lot fresher and felt better right from the start of the week.

“I treated myself to an upgrade to business with AirMiles, and got to lie down and have a good night’s sleep on the last leg of the journey. I didn’t get here wrecked.

“It just got me off on the right foot, I have made rookie mistakes in the past. I have done a bit of running as well, which has felt good.

“Zhao was a super player for 17, a few of the lads were talking about him before we arrived but I managed to put that out of my mind. It is Mark Selby next, the dream is always to go all the way but that will clearly be a tough game.”

Elsewhere in the evening matches defending champion Ding Junhui and world champion Selby remained on course for a possible final showdown after 5-3 wins over Martin Gould and Michael Holt – flying the flag for the big guns after so many have crashed out, though O’Brien and Graeme Dott will have something to say about that.

And Alan McManus won the all-Scottish clash against a limping Stephen Maguire, the five-time ranking event winner troubled by a searing pain in his leg.

It meant that whenever he stood up after time in his chair Maguire had trouble moving, and that was where the 43-year-old McManus kept him for long periods before sealing a 5-1 victory.

The quarter-final line-up reads: Ding v Dott, Bingham v McManus, White v Allen and O'Brien v Selby. All matches to be played on Friday 12th September.


Photograph by Monique Limbos