Michael White won his first world ranking title with a 5-0 thrashing of Ricky Walden in the final of the Indian Open.
Michael White with the Indian Open trophy
Welsh 23-year-old White dominated a one-sided final in Mumbai which lasted just 53 minutes, outscoring his opponent by 419 points to 27 as he stormed to the £50,000 top prize.
It has been an extraordinary fortnight for world number 21 White as he won his first professional title last week at the Shoot-Out in Blackpool. He flew straight to India, shrugging off the effects of fatigue and jet-lag and now, 4,500 miles way, he has reached another landmark.
White had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event but has been the best player this week at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, making three centuries and 14 more breaks over 50. And while he didn’t meet an opponent ranked within the world’s top 32 until today, he then beat two-time World Champion Mark Williams in the semis 4-2 before easily seeing off world number eight Walden.
White’s dramatic burst into the limelight this month is reminiscent of Judd Trump’s sudden transition from promising talent to prolific winner in 2011. He has shown break-building skills and calmness at the key moments which will surely help him win many titles as the highest level. The youngest ever player to make a competitive century – age nine – and world amateur champion by 14, White is now showing his true class on the professional tour and has moved to the brink of a place in the top 16.
Chester’s Walden had been bidding for his fourth career ranking title, first outside China and second of the season having won the International Championship in Chengdu. But the 32-year-old, perhaps jaded after his 4-3 semi-final win over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh earlier in the day, was unable to gain a foothold in the contest as he lost a ranking final for the first time.
White got off to a superb start with breaks of 81 and 77 to take the first two frames. He made 45 in the next before running out of position, but got back in and added 41 to extend his lead.
In the next White led 32-1 when he knocked in a sizzling long red to set up a break of 58 which made it 4-0 at the mid-session interval. And there was to be no fight-back for Walden as White wrapped up victory in frame five with a rapid 85, punching the air as he potted the decisive ball.
“Ever since I first played snooker at the age of seven, I have dreamed of winning tournaments,” said White. “It means everything to me, I can’t describe how I’m feeling. Ever since I was nine, people have been on my back to win titles, although the only pressure I feel is what I put on myself. I just want to keep improving now.
“I know it was a quick final but my nickname is Lightning so now you know why! I don’t think I put a foot wrong in the final. My safety was good, my break-building was brilliant. I produced at the right time and kept the pressure on Ricky all the way through. He beat me comfortably in the quarter-finals of the World Championship three years ago. He’s a top player who has won ranking events. But when you’re making breaks, there’s nothing your opponent can do.
“Mark Williams had a chat with me around a month ago and told me what he was doing when he was my age. I realised I had been putting the work in, but not enough. I started doing an extra couple of hours a day and having more discipline away from snooker. He has won everything and I knew he wanted to point me in the right direction. He asked me for a photo after the final – he probably wanted a picture with the champion because that’s the closest he was going to get to the trophy!”
Walden said: “I expected to go out there and compete a bit more, but it wasn’t my night and Michael outplayed me in all departments. I mis-hit a few shots early on and left Michael some good chances, and he took advantage. If I could have got a frame on the board I could have got some momentum going, but I just never had a good chance. Everyone knows what a good player Michael is.”
This was the second world ranking tournament staged in India, a country where, it is hoped, the popularity of snooker will continue to grow.