Si Jiahui handed China a much-needed piece of good news on the day that 10 of their players began a match-fixing hearing in London.
The 20-year-old Crucible debutant and qualifier beat reigning Welsh Open champion Rob Milkins 13-7 to surge into the quarter-finals in Sheffield on Monday afternoon.
The world No80’s exploits at the World Championship come with many of his compatriots charged with match-fixing, being concerned in match-fixing, betting on snooker and other rules breaches.
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Si himself was famously the subject of a Shaun Murphy rant after he beat the Magician as an amateur at the UK Championship in 2021. Murphy said he “shouldn’t be in the building”.
But Si quickly went away and earned his spot on tour last summer. And after getting another sweet win over Murphy in the first round here, he has now made it to the last eight for the first time.
If Si did manage to win the world title he would become the youngest player to do so – ahead of Stephen Hendry, who claimed his first of seven crowns at the age of 21.
He said: “I am very surprised to have made it through to the quarter-finals – I was actually surprised just to come through the qualifying stage and get here.
“I am playing this tournament as a way of just learning from other players and not putting too much pressure on myself to win.
“I am very honoured to be in that position, a fifth player from China to make it into the quarter-finals – but I was not thinking about that, and just trying to enjoy it out there.”
A century break to wrap up the biggest win of his career!
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Si’s surprise is genuine. He has been booking and rebooking flights home to China all through qualifying and now through the first two rounds at the Crucible itself.
He added: “I wasn't quite in the zone first frame today and offered him with a lot of chances, but it was the same the other way around I think.
“Rob is a very aggressive player and plays with a quick rhythm, but I thought there could be opportunities in a match against a player of his style, if he's not in top form.
“I always knew he could be very dangerous if he was playing well, after all he is a top-16 seed.
“But after losing a couple of frames at the end I made a good century break to get over line in the end and I was very patient, I think that is something I have got better at.
“That frame didn't get to me much because I believed the comeback was unlikely so I took my time and did it patiently. I just told myself not to rush it..
“The whole progress for me, from the qualifiers, I felt peaceful and calm emotionally. I treat it as if it's a minor event, day one, day two... like a daily practice, and so just enjoying the Crucible.
“I went back to China and spent 20 days with my family after the Welsh Open. I spent some great time with my parents and hung out with my girlfriend. I was homesick because it's been three years.
“My father owns a pool club and all the customers were watching me playing. And it's great speaking to my dad after matches, to get motivation, he's been genuinely great and supportive.
“My matches have been shown after midnight in the club, they all stayed on to cheer for their local boy and I'm now in the quarter finals as a debutant - so probably they will all stay up and watch.”
Steve Davis, a six-time world champion and now BBC pundit, said: “You could never have known this was going to happen looking at his form coming in.
“But sometimes all of a sudden you get a young player come here and just jump up a couple of levels. He was just promising – now he’s a player.”
Dennis Taylor, the 1985 world champion, said in the commentary box: “It’s a wonderful talent we are watching here, one of the best to come out of China for quite some time. A young sensation.
“It was very special for him to finish the match with a century break. And possibly he could be the first player from China to lift that World Championship trophy.”
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