Part-time builder Adam Duffy sent Ding Junhui crashing out of the Betway UK Championship with a 6-2 victory in York on Tuesday night.
China’s Ding took this title in 2005 and 2009 and was considered among the favourites this time having returned to form by winning last month’s Haining Open. But he was left biting the dust by amateur Duffy, who works part time for his dad Kevin’s building firm.
Sheffield’s Duffy had a three-year spell on the pro tour from 2011-2014 and narrowly missed out on regaining his card this year. He also reached the final qualifying round of the World Championship, losing 10-8 to Jamie Jones. But the 26-year-old showed he has the talent to succeed in the sport with a fine display against world number nine Ding.
He won the opening frame with a break of 94 and added a scrappy second, then won the third on a respotted black. Ding looked to be gaining momentum as breaks of 50 and 85 saw him recover to 3-2. But Duffy dominated the next two frames then came from 69-0 down to win the eighth, converting excellent pots on the last pink and black to seal the best victory of his career.
“I feel buzzing, crazy,” he said. “What a feeling. I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight. I’m still in shock myself. I’ve been working really hard at the academy in Sheffield and I’ve put a lot of hours in.
“I thought Ding would come back frok 3-0 down, he is a class player. I had to dig in and hope that he missed a few – and he did.”
Michael White was another top 16 player to lose on the opening day as he went down 6-5 to tour rookie Sydney Wilson. Welshman White, the Indian Open champion, led 4-2 and 5-4, but Essex cueman Wilson recovered to 5-5 and eventually cleared from green to black to win the decider.
Wilson said: “It’s a very good result. I’m obviously very pleased because I’ve struggled for the last few events. To beat a player like Michael is great for me and good for my confidence. I actually feel fairly comfortable playing out there now.”
Anthony McGill showed the quality which took him to the quarter-finals here last year – and at the World Championship – as he beat James Cahill 6-3 with top breaks of 142, 127, 128 and 78.
Tom Ford was also in fine form as he knocked in 111, 94, 65, 50, 83 and 125 in a 6-1 win over Scott Donaldson.
Joe Swail had laser eye surgery last month and believes the improvement in his vision could resurrect his career, and the Ulsterman backed that up with a 6-0 win over Joel Walker, highlighted by breaks of 98, 68 and 79.
China’s Liang Wenbo made two breaks of 104 in a 6-1 defeat of Gareth Allen while Jack Lisowski earned a 6-4 win over Zak Surety and Gary Wilson saw off Martin O’Donnell 6-3.