Ryan Day won the first ranking title of his career, 18 years after turning pro, by beating Stephen Maguire 5-2 in the final of the Kaspersky Riga Masters.
Welshman Day went all the way to the £50,000 top prize and the trophy at the first tournament of the 2017/18 season. It was his fifth ranking final and the previous four – including last season’s World Grand Prix – had all ended in disappointment.
Day regularly featured in conversations on the best player never to win a ranking event, particularly after Anthony Hamilton shed that unwanted tag when he lifted the German Masters crown four months ago. But now Day finally has his name on a major piece of silverware and the 37-year-old from Bridgend will hope to go on to bigger and better things. He climbs from 18th to 15th in the world rankings.
He won six matches in the Latvian capital over the three-day tournament, knocking out Barry Hawkins, Robert Milkins, Kyren Wilson and Joe Perry before edging out Mark Williams 5-4 in a Welsh derby in the semi-finals thanks to a superb break of 77 in the deciding frame.
In the final, Day won the opening frame with a break of 59 then clinched a tight second on the colours. A run of 77 made it 3-0 and he added the fourth on the colours too.
Glasgow’s Maguire, seeking his sixth ranking title and first since 2013, hit back after the interval with a break of 119 to get a frame on the board, and he made 35 and 42 in the next to close to 4-2.
In frame seven, Day made 58 then Maguire got back to within 29 points with two reds left before playing a loose safety. Day potted a red then an excellent pink to go 36 ahead. His opponent trapped him in four tough snookers, but he was equal to the task each time, and when Day potted yellow and green victory was his.
“It has been a long time coming and I’m delighted to win a trophy,” said Day, who heads to China next week for the Snooker World Cup where he will partner Mark Williams in the Welsh team. “I played well all weekend, in fact the final was the worst I played. I was lucky that Stephen didn’t play his best.
“At 4-2 I was getting really weird and negative thoughts coming into my head so I just had to stay in the moment and get over the line.
“I’m really looking forward to the World Cup now because Mark and I have both shown good form.”
Maguire, whose £25,000 moves him up five places to 19th in the rankings, said: “I made it too easy for Ryan in the first four frames. He took advantage and deserved to win. I felt as if I couldn’t play the game until after the interval. I’m glad Ryan has won because he should have won a tournament many years ago. I tried my hardest and it has been a good week.”