Ahmed Saif, Qatar’s only professional snooker player, won a match in a ranking event for the first time with a 4-0 victory over Anthony Hamilton at the BetVictor Welsh Open.
Saif, age 32, came through Q school in May 2013 to earn a two year tour card. Before today, he had played 25 professional matches and his only victory came in an Asian Tour event last month when he beat Chinese amateur Long Yun. His prize money across two seasons was just £200.
So today’s victory over two-time ranking event finalist Hamilton is a significant moment for Saif – far more valuable to his pride than the £1,500 prize money boost.
“If I had dropped off the tour without winning a match I would be very sad,” said Saif, who closed today with a break of 95, his highest in a pro match. “I still want to do more, but I’m happy with how I played today. I have proved to myself that I can play and I can win. For a long time I have wanted to do that. So now there is less pressure than before.
“I lost many matches because of inexperience. Many frames I should have won, but my opponents took them from me. Even today in the second frame he needed a snooker, I fouled and I was afraid it would happen again. I played better today than I have before, and I’m happy to beat an experienced player.
“I don’t care about the money, I just want to do something for my country, that’s the most important thing. Qatar sent me here and did everything for me.”
Saif, who lives in Qatar and flies to the UK a few days before each tournament, now faces Alan McManus and added: “I just hope I can play like I do in practise, and enjoy it. That’s enough for me.”