Thursday, 11 August 2011

Guodong from strength to strength

Xiao Guodong was a lot of people's player to watch this season - and this week he showed why.

The 22-year-old Chinese cueman has come a long way since turning professional back in 2007 and is now established as one of the the most frightening break builders on the tour.

It doesn't matter where the balls are - he always looks like clearing up.

He did that regularly this week as he emerged as the surprise package in Gloucester to reach the semi-finals of the PTC2.

Wins against Reanne Evans, Rod Lawler, Craig Steadman, Jamie Burnett and Rory McLeod for the concession of just five frames powered him to the last four where he narrowly lost out 4-3 to fellow countryman Ding Junui.

It's taken Xiao a couple of seasons to settle down on the circuit after first breaking on winning the under-21 Asian Championship. Last season he won eight first round PTC matches and at least one game in all seven major ranking event qualifiers, and despite never make it to the last 16 at a PTC, he did enough to secure a place in the top 64 of the rankings by the skin of his teeth.

He wrapped up his place with a dramatic 10-9 against Kurt Maflin in the first round of qualifying for the World Championship, to avoid the rat race of needing to go through Q School or rely on a wildcard as he did to return in 2010.

Now in his fourth straight campaign as a pro, people are talking about him more than ever as a player capable of making real waves at the top end of the game.

A glorious Gloucester display puts right the wrongs of losing his opening qualifying matches in the Australian Open and Shanghai Masters so far. Now he's found his feet , I wonder whether he can live up to the expectations in what could now turn out to be a groundbreaking season for this sensational scorer.

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