HE had targeted a spot in the quarter-finals before the tournament, but Luca Brecel can still scarcely believe he will play Mark King today for a place in the last eight of the williamhill.com UK Championship.
The 17-year-old, the lowest ranked player in the competition at 74, shocked Ricky Walden 6-5 to set up this afternoon’s second round clash.
But the Belgian, who made snooker history earlier this year when becoming the youngest player to compete at the Crucible after qualifying for the final stages of the World Championship, isn’t content at merely claiming the scalp of Walden, last year’s UK semi-finalist.
Even so, he described his dogged victory – his first under the TV lights and captured after he had recovered from 2-0 and 4-2 behind – as a “very big moment” in his fledgling career.
“It feels unbelievable,” he said. “It was a very tough match. Ricky’s a great player. It wasn’t my best game, but I won so I am very pleased.
“I was still very positive and full of confidence (at 4-2 down) and anything could happen. It’s a very big moment. I still can’t believe it. Hopefully I can beat King and be in the quarter-finals. That would be amazing.
“It will be tough but I am confident. I just want to play a great game and I will enjoy it.”
A disappointed Walden said: “I had loads of chances. In the frames I won I scored heavily and I scored heavily in a couple of the frames I lost as well.
“There is no excuse. I was sloppy all the way through and gifted a lot of frames to Luca. He did well.
“I know he’s been to Sheffield but, for a TV performance, he handled himself well. He’s got a good game and I think he will do very well but I made it very easy for him.”