Peter Ebdon won the Bank of Beijing China Open for the second time, beating Stephen Maguire 10-9 in a thrilling final at the Beijing University Students Stadium.
Ebdon won his ninth ranking event – and first since the 2009 China Open – by outlasting Maguire in a marathon final which lasted 7 hours 28 minutes and finished at nearly 1am local time.
The London-born player pocketed the £75,000 first prize after a remarkable turnaround in his fortunes, having looked in danger of dropping out of the world’s top 32 earlier this season.
The 41-year-old was 5-1 up after the first session of the final, then Scotland’s Maguire bravely battled back to 8-8 in a tense concluding session of sometimes brilliant, sometimes tactical snooker. Veteran Ebdon was never behind in the match, and eventually managed to cross the winning line.
The 2002 World Champion notched breaks of 107, 124, 52, 103, 65 and 103 during the match while Maguire, who beat Shaun Murphy 10-9 in the 2008 China Open final, scored runs of 53, 84, 98, 65, 70 and 97.
But it was Ebdon, who has dedicated himself to a strict vegan diet in a bid for fresh impetus, who captured the trophy. He jumps from 28th to 21st in the rankings while Maguire rises from 9th to 7th.
Ebdon is now sure of a place in the Premier League later this year, and can look ahead to the forthcoming Betfred.com World Championship qualifiers with renewed confidence.
He said: “I’m delighted to win. To be perfectly honest, I feel a little bit embarrassed because I didn’t handle the pressure very well today, and I feel that Stephen played better than I did, and I feel that he deserved to win. I’m delighted to win, but disappointed with my performance and that I didn’t handle things better tonight.
“I was really pleased with the first session, because I felt like I played solid snooker, I felt really good and I scored well. It feels weird because I had four centuries in that match, and yet I don’t feel like I handled it at all. There’s a part of me that feels very sorry for Stephen, because he made a tremendous comeback, and he was very strong, and he put me under a lot of pressure. Fortunately, I potted a really good red at the end, and managed to crawl my way back into it. I missed too many balls today, and gave him too many chances.
“I was feeling pretty tired at the end. I felt deflated because I knew I didn’t handle myself very well out there. I’m not used to having leads like that. Obviously it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a final, maybe it’s to be expected. But I’ve been playing really well this week. My focus and concentration was good. My preparation has been really, really good. I just expected more coming into the final session this evening. But I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve won this fantastic tournament again. It’s only my ninth professional ranking event win in 20 years as a professional.
“I’d love to get to the World Championship – I’m not in the top 16 anymore so I’ve got to play a qualifying match. So that’ll be tough, but my preparation this season is coming along nicely. I’m just one of a handful of players that seem to be coming into form at the right time. It’s fantastic to win the tournament, and I tried so, so hard while I was here. I’d love to win my qualifying match and get back to the Crucible. I think it would be my 21st consecutive appearance in Sheffield. That’s something to be very proud of, if I can do it.”
Maguire, gracious in defeat, said: “If I’d lost 10-1 or 10-2, it would have meant I wasn’t even part of the match. I just tried hard tonight to make a match of it, to make sure Peter won it, not gift him the title. Which eventually I did. I can take a lot of fighting qualities out of it.
“At 8-8, I let him in first, and he missed an easy red, and he could have left me a chance. I was on a bit of a roll then, and had made a few breaks to go 8-8. And if I had got in, I would have scored, and scored heavy. But he didn’t leave anything on, and then he made a good break to go 9-8 up. That settled him a little bit, but I did fancy it at 8-8.
“It’s good that I’ve beaten three of four of the best players. It’s obviously disappointing right now, but tomorrow when I look back at it, it’s another final. I’ve lost my last three or four finals now and it’s nipping at me a little bit, especially that one there. The way things are going, I’ll get to the Crucible, get to the final, and get beat!
“Peter outplayed me, totally, in the first session. There was absolutely nothing I could do, and I seemed to be sitting in my seat for long periods of time. And when I did get a chance to come back, I was just so cold, I had no table time, the game felt really difficult. That was all just about Peter dominating the game, so fair play to Peter. I mean, if he’s dominating the table, there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Monday March 26
21 Neil Robertson 5-4 Jamie Cope
1 Jimmy White 5-3 Omar Alkojah
2 Mark King 5-3 Zhu Yinghui
4 Michael Holt 3-5 Li Hang
22 Martin Gould 4-5 Stephen Hendry
7 Peter Ebdon 5-2 Lu Haotian
5 Ben Woollaston 5-1 Chen Feilong
6 Jamie Jones 3-5 Lu Ning
Tuesday March 27
17 Mark Selby 5-0 Li Hang
13 Stephen Maguire 5-1 Barry Hawkins
3 Fergal O’Brien 4-5 Jin Long
8 Rory McLeod 5-0 Zhou Yuelong
18 Ding Junhui 5-4 Ben Woollaston
9 Judd Trump 5-3 Jimmy White
12 Graeme Dott 5-2 Mark King
11 Stephen Lee 5-1 Tom Ford
Wednesday March 26
24 John Higgins 5-1 Rory McLeod
16 Mark Williams 5-1 Jin Long
14 Mark Allen 2-5 Ricky Walden
10 Stuart Bingham 5-4 Joe Perry
15 Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 Marcus Campbell
20 Shaun Murphy 2-5 Lu Ning
23 Matthew Stevens 3-5 Peter Ebdon
19 Ali Carter 5-4 Dominic Dale
Thursday March 26
28 Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-1 Mark Williams
25 Judd Trump 5-3 Stuart Bingham
27 Stephen Maguire 5-4 Ricky Walden
26 Stephen Lee 5-3 Graeme Dott
29 Mark Selby w/d Ding Junhui BYE
32 Peter Ebdon 5-4 John Higgins
30 Ali Carter 5-1 Lu Ning
31 Neil Robertson 5-3 Stephen Hendry
Friday March 26
Judd Trump 3-5 Stephen Lee
Stephen Maguire 5-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Ding Junhui 5-2 Ali Carter
Neil Robertson 3-5 Peter Ebdon
Saturday March 26
Stephen Maguire 6-2 Stephen Lee
Ding Junhui 3-6 Peter Ebdon
Sunday March 26
Stephen Maguire 9-10 Peter Ebdon