World number 84 Sunny Akani scored a shock 6-0 win over Barry Hawkins at the Betway UK Championship to set up fourth round clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan.
With Kyren Wilson losing to Ricky Walden, tonight’s results mean that only four of the world’s top 16 are through to the last 16 at the York Barbican.
The sun always shines…Akani
Thailand’s 22-year-old Akani turned pro in 2015 and he has since shown signs of his potential, notably reaching the quarter-finals of the Indian Open last season, but victory over world number eight Hawkins is the best result of his career so far. The former Asian under-21 champion will face his idol O’Sullivan on Thursday evening.
He made breaks of 55 and 59 tonight and won each of the other four frames on the colours to send three-time ranking event winner Hawkins home.
“Today I played pretty well and didn’t miss any easy shots,” said Akani, who beat Fergal O’Brien and Michael Holt in the first two rounds. “And I was lucky that when I did miss, Barry could not punish me too badly.
“He is a really top player so it is a great win for me. It wasn’t a good day for him and the balls landed awkwardly when he was at the table.
“I get a lot of fans back in Thailand watching my matches. It is tough succeeding as a professional, there is so much to learn but I have tried very hard to improve from every experience I have during the season.
“This is a very big tournament and I am really enjoying it, I have felt like I have played better this season and I hope I can continue playing at this standard or even better.”
Shaun Murphy booked his fourth round spot with a 6-3 win over Jimmy Robertson. World number six Murphy made breaks of 68 and 88 in building a 3-1 lead before Robertson won frame five on the final pink and frame six with an excellent 90 clearance.
Murphy, the 2008 UK Champion, regrouped and made 93 and 60 to lead 5-3. Robertson looked set to take frame nine until he missed the penultimate red when 40 points ahead, and that proved his last shot as Murphy cleared with 41.
Walden continued his return to form, having suffered injury problems in recent months, with a 6-2 win over Wilson. Chester’s Walden, twice a semi-finalist in this event, fired breaks of 82, 56, 116, 69 and 50.
China’s Xiao Guodong saw off Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham 6-3 with a top break of 79.
Last 16 line up:
Li Hang v Ryan Day
Mark Joyce v Lyu Haotian
Shaun Murphy v Ricky Walden
Mark King v John Higgins
Graeme Dott v Stephen Maguire
Joe Perry v Mark Allen
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Sunny Akani
Martin Gould v Xiao Guodong