THE rest of the game might be looking on in wonder at the achievements of teenager Luca Brecel, but the youngster isn’t surprised he has managed to reach the quarter-finals of the williamhill.com UK Championship.
After dumping Ricky Walden out in the first round, the 17-year-old Belgian repeated the trick against Mark King – recovering from a three frame early deficit to record an improbable 6-4 victory.
He’ll now meet 2008 UK champion Shaun Murphy today for a place in the semi-finals and reckons his fighting qualities could see him spring yet another shock at the Barbican.
“I feel amazing, it’s unbelievable,” Brecel said of his win.
“I wanted to go home (at 3-0 down), but after the fourth frame everything changed.
“After the frame I won, I had confidence. It is an amazing moment. I am still not playing well so, hopefully, in the next game, I will play better.
“It will be the toughest match ever (against Murphy). I have not played him before. It’s good to play out there. Almost everyone is supporting me.”
Brecel’s victory looked almost unthinkable when he found himself 3-0 down. King’s highest break in that period was only 42 but, with his opponent looking nervous and struggling in the balls, the Romford player looked like he wouldn’t need to be at his best to progress.
But, after he broke down on 41 in the fourth, Brecel got into gear, pinching the frame with a 65 break which began when he drained a confidence-boosting long red, and then claiming the next with the help of a huge slice of luck.
He missed a straightforward brown on 38 and was walking back to his chair as the ball ran back down the table and fluked into a corner pocket.
An effort of 76 levelled matters and, when a punishing 80 put him 5-3 ahead, all the momentum was with him.
King cut a frustrated figure but dug deep to claim a scrappy ninth frame. It merely delayed the inevitable.
Brecel knows he will need to up his game another notch if he is to trouble the new attack minded Murphy, but he won’t lack attitude.
“I am a fighter,” he added when asked if he had been surprised at the qualities he had shown to fight back against King.
“I wasn’t surprised, but I was surprised how badly I played over the two matches. I am very tough. I played 20 per cent of my game.
“I’ve not seen Shaun in action but no (I won’t be intimidated).”
King said: “I just didn’t get going and that’s one of the main reasons why I have never won a ranking event. One day I will play really well, really solid, and the next is rubbish. It was a really poor performance.
“It was really frustrating because you are not going to get chances like that to get into the UK quarter-finals. No disrespect to him, he’s a good player, but if you play at 30 per cent you don’t deserve to beat anyone.
“I went in there and played as I normally would but I just didn’t feel it, I wasn’t as up for it as I was the other day.”