Zhang Anda Makes Snooker History with International Championship Victory

Zhang Lands (Picture Source World Snooker)

China’s Zhang Anda secured his inaugural ranking event title with a decisive 10-6 victory over Englishman Tom Ford in the International Championship final held in Tianjin.

Zhang now joins an exclusive group as the sixth player from mainland China to claim ranking silverware. Notably, he becomes the second Chinese player to achieve this feat on home turf, following the trailblazing Ding Junhui, who ignited widespread interest in the sport with his 2005 China Open triumph.

The 31-year-old’s journey to success has been gradual since turning professional in 2009. Earlier this season, he reached his first ranking final at the English Open, where, despite leading 7-3 against Judd Trump, he narrowly lost 9-7 due to a six-frame burst.

Zhang’s path to victory at the International Championship included notable wins against snooker heavyweights Ding, Mark Williams, and Ronnie O’Sullivan. His triumph secures a spot in the upcoming Champion of Champions, where he will face O’Sullivan.

This victory propels Zhang into the world’s top 16 for the first time, ensuring automatic qualification for the upcoming MrQ UK Championship. He now holds the highest ranking among Chinese players, claiming the 15th position globally and a £175,000 top prize.

For Ford, this marks another close call as he misses out on his maiden ranking title. Despite reaching the final in all three of his ranking appearances, including a runner-up finish at the German Masters earlier this year, he fell short against Zhang. Ford’s efforts this week earned him £75,000.

In a captivating afternoon session, Zhang took a 5-4 lead, showcasing his skill with a 147 break in the third frame. The evening session saw Ford level the score at 5-5, but Zhang’s determined performance, marked by breaks of 71, 65, and 108, secured an 8-5 lead. Despite Ford’s efforts to stay in the game, Zhang’s final break of 71 in the 16th frame sealed his historic ranking event victory.

Expressing his elation, Zhang reflected on his challenging journey, including contemplating retirement during the pandemic. He credited the English Open for contributing to his improvement and highlighted the valuable lessons learned from previous setbacks.

In response to his defeat, Ford acknowledged Zhang’s superior performance and expressed his disappointment while praising the tournament’s impressive setting and enthusiastic crowd.

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