Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Time for Tian to shine

Talented Tian Pengfei proved why he's one to watch out for this season.

The 23-year-old Chinese cueman made three centuries and another break of 95 as he steamrolled past poor Anthony McGill 5-1, in their Australian Open round two qualifying match today.

Building on his equally comfortable 5-1 first round win against India's Aditya Mehta yesterday, Tian now only needs one more victory to complete his route on the yellow brick road to Oz because his next opponent, Anthony Hamilton, has withdrawn from the tournament.

To make it to the first Australian Open in Bedigo, he just needs to beat Mark Davis on Thursday. It's a big ask against the world number 19, but who would bet against him now.

Barely troubled so far this week and obviously playing with plenty of confidence, he'll be a tough nut for Davis to crack - and the two have got history. He beat Davis at the 2010 China Open after being given a wildcard for the event.

Tian's form so far this week is showing the snooker world - not for the first time - what an able player he is, and it's all thanks to the chance he's been given by the Q School, where he secured his return to the professional circuit this summer.

Despite coming through one of Barry Hearn's brand new initiatives, Tian is far from a hidden talent of the game though.

In fact, he first turned pro back in 2006, aged  18. His two seasons on tour took him to the last 32 of two ranking events and even though he fell off the circuit in 2008, he's been given plenty of wildcard opportunities since. Being an opportunist, he's gone on to make his wildcards count with wins against Davis, Andrew Higginson and three-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Those sort of results prove he's got the raw capabilities to win one-off matches, but this season is a chance for us to judge whether he's matured enough to become a househould name in the snooker world. So far, he's ticking all the boxes.

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