Belgian teenager Brecel advances
Belgian teenager Luca Brecel insisted he could win the williamhill.com UK Championship after setting up a quarter-final against Shaun Murphy.
Brecel will be seeking the missing four-fifths of his game after claiming "I played only 20% of my game" to knock out Romford's Mark King.
And should Brecel add to his victories over Ricky Walden and King by knocking out the 2005 world champion tomorrow afternoon, then the talk of him becoming the youngest ranking event winner in history can become more serious.
Were he to triumph on Sunday, Brecel would break Ronnie O'Sullivan's record. O'Sullivan won this tournament in 1993, seven days shy of his 18th birthday.
Brecel, who has three months left as a 17-year-old, has been long backed to win many professional titles, and he lacks none of the confidence that champions require.
Asked if he could carry off the title this weekend, he said: "I can win, but we'll see what happens."
But he also said: "I'm still not playing well."
Brecel had two breaks of 65, one of 78 and an 80 as he recovered from 3-0 behind to beat King 6-4.
He claims a tough streak makes him a threat to anyone left in the tournament, and today's recovery may have caught 38-year-old King unawares, but Brecel only very briefly doubted himself, suggesting he wanted to go home at 3-0 down.
"I'm a fighter, so I wasn't surprised," he said.
Brecel bears few physical characteristics of a pugilist, but struck a fists-up pose when his claim to being a fighter was questioned.
"I am," he said. "I'm very tough."
That has still to be proven.
He has qualified for just two major ranking tournaments, the World Championship in April, and this ongoing tournament at York's Barbican Centre.
Murphy has had his eye on the youngster for several years though, and said: "He's looking like the real deal."
Speculation is circling snooker that O'Sullivan could return from his career break in time to defend his title at the World Championship in April, but it is the likes of Brecel and Judd Trump who personify the long-term future of the sport.
King was hopelessly off his game in the closing stages against Brecel, and said: "One day I'll play really well and the next I'm like a bag of spuds."
He was not wholly won over by Brecel either, and said: "If he plays like that against Shaun Murphy he won't win a frame."
Mark Selby came through his second-round test in similar circumstances, sliding 3-0 adrift against Wales' Ryan Day but recovering to win 6-4, and the Leicester man will replace Trump as world number one should he reach the final.
Like Brecel, Selby struggled to pot a ball early on, but he found fluency and come the closing stages it was Day missing regularly.
"The way the match started I don't think it could have got any worse," Selby, 29, said. "I was expecting the light to go off halfway through, I thought I was at a social club.
"I feel as if my game is there and it's all about having the confidence and belief to take it out on the table."
Australian Neil Robertson was largely untroubled by Barry Hawkins tonight, beating the Englishman 6-2, aided by breaks of 57, 67 and a closing 68. The 2010 world champion will tackle Selby tomorrow, with a semi-final place at stake.
John Higgins recorded a second maximum of the season in his tussle with Mark Davis, but the underdog prevailed 6-5 after a dreadful miss on the pink by the former world champion in the deciding frame.