Chinese youngster Fan Zhengyi won his first ranking title with a stunning 10-9 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan in the BetVictor European Masters final.
The 21-year-old world number 80 kept his composure to edge past the six-time world champion with a confident break of 92 in a final decider in Milton Keynes.
O’Sullivan had fought back from two frames behind to equalize three times, then pulled away 9-8 to lead the game to the wire, but never had control.
Fan, who struck two centuries earlier in the game, duly capped a memorable victory and O’Sullivan was generous in his assessment of his opponent’s performance.
“He’s a fantastic, brilliant player,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “He was the best player all day. I tried to hang in there and make it a game – which I eventually did – but he deserved his win.
“It’s brilliant for snooker and it was a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to play against a future world champion.”
O’Sullivan was not at his best and twice complained of movement in the auditorium, first by a spectator and later by a photographer.
The 46-year-old needed to dig deep to stay in the game.
The first four frames were scrappy and split 2-2, but Fan then retired to take a 4-2 lead after breaks of 63 and 78.
O’Sullivan came back level at 4-4, taking the last frame of the first session with an 83 break, but twin Fan centuries (135 and 100) in the early evening restored his two-frame advantage.
Again O’Sullivan clawed his way back to make it 6-6 as both players missed chances but Fan then took the next two. O’Sullivan kept the game alive with a sparkling 107, then netted a tight 16th frame, before the next two were shared to set up the decider.