Snooker: Zhao destined to be world number one - Hawkins

Tue Nov 1, 2016 7:07am EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese teenager Zhao Xintong is as talented as the great Ronnie O'Sullivan was at a similar age and will one day become the number one player in snooker, according to 2013 world championship runner-up Barry Hawkins.

Zhao made everyone in the sport sit up and take notice when he made an outstanding clearance of 130 in the first frame of his English Open second-round clash with O'Sullivan in Manchester earlier this month.

The 19-year-old, who only turned professional this year, went on to take the five-times world champion all the way to a final-frame decider and was unlucky to go down 4-3 to the Englishman.

"Zhao stands out among the Chinese talent that's around in the game," world number 14 Hawkins told Reuters in an interview.

"He's very attacking, goes for a lot of shots, which is probably his downfall at the moment, but I'm sure in time the tactical side will come through and he'll learn that side of things too.

"He's a future world champion and because the two near enough go hand in hand, a future world number one as well. There's an air of super confidence about him," said the 37-year-old Hawkins of fellow left-hander Zhao.

"Ronnie also had that when he first came on the scene at 17, 18. Zhao hasn't won the same amount of tournaments he won but is the nearest thing I've seen to Ronnie at the same age."

Chinese players have excelled in recent weeks with Ding Junhui winning the Shanghai Masters and reaching the final of the International Championship while Liang Wenbo landed the English Open title.   Continued...

Snooker - Dafabet Masters - Alexandra Palace - 16/1/16Barry Hawkins in action during the semi finalMandatory Credit: Action Images / Peter CziborraLivepic/Via Reuters