Steve Davis
Steve Davis made a successful start to his Bank of Communication Shanghai Masters campaign then offered the opinion that China will soon be snooker's most powerful nation.


Pic: Tai Chengzhe /


The 55-year-old snooker legend eased to a 5-1 success over wild card Zhu Yinghui but he believes that the balance of power in the sport is gradually shifting to the east. The sense of an emergence of an army of talented young Chinese players was heightened on the other TV table as 14-year-old Lu Haotian, the youngest ever world under-21 champion, beat Marco Fu 5-4.


Six-time World Champion Davis scored top breaks of 77 and 69 and gave his 16-year-old opponent a masterclass in safety and tactical play as he set up a last 32 meeting with Ricky Walden.


"I was very pleased to keep him under my foot, because I could see how dangerous a player he is," said the Nugget. "I tried to make it as hard for him as possible, and once I had him on the hook I wanted to keep him there. If you can get your opponent into a hole at the start of the match, you just try to make the hole deeper and deeper.


"My only advice to him is to enjoy the challenge and hope it takes him a long way. I can't even remember what it was like at that age.


"It's tough to play against wild cards because they are very good players with nothing to lose. They are the future though - somewhere in China there is a ten-year-old watching on TV who will become World Champion.


"Five of the ten ranking events are in China this season and the market is still growing. There are more and more talented players and it's getting to the stage where we could stage some of the qualifying events here.


"I can't see any conclusion other than that China becomes the strongest snooker nation in the world. The only question is how long it will take to happen."


In a high quality contest on table 2, Fu went 3-0 up with top breaks of 61 and 99. Lu launched his comeback with a 112 then nicked two tight frames on the colours and won the seventh as well to lead 4-3. Fu recovered with a 124, but never got a chance in the decider. Lu potted nine reds with blacks on his way to a break of 76 which proved enough.


"I didn't feel pressure, I just tried to do my best," said the teenager from Beijing, who will now meet Haikou World Open champion Mark Allen. "My only target is to practise more and keep getting better."


Jamie Jones beat Lu Ning 5-2, despite a top break of just 30, to earn a tie with John Higgins. Rob Milkins edged out Zhou Yuelong 5-4 thanks to a run of 61 in the deciding frame, and he now plays Ali Carter.