Zhao Xintong secured his first win in tournament play since the UK Championship with victory over Mark Williams at the German Masters.
Since his win over Luca Brecel in the final in York, Zhao had been beaten in the first round of the World Grand Prix, The Masters and the Shoot Out.
His form was not of the sizzling level he produced in York, but was able to get the better of a tight scrap with Williams.
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Zhao was described by Alan McManus on Eurosport commentary as the best single-ball potter in the game, and he showed his prowess with his first pot of the match by rolling a red into right middle from a tight angle. It set up a break of 64 which ultimately proved enough to take the frame.
While Zhao's potting is exceptional, his tactical play can be sharper. He had chances in the second, but did not take them and he was beaten in a safety battle by Williams who duly levelled the contest.
The third was a role-reversal of the second, as it was Williams who squandered a chance and was surprisingly beaten in a safety exchange.
Much was made of Williams’ defensive breaks last season. He has returned to the conventional way of opening frames this term, but it proved costly in the fourth as he left a red in the open and Zhao crunched it in and raced through a break of 72 to take a lead into the interval.
Williams worked an advantage in the frame after the resumption, but was put through the mill in his attempt to close it out. Zhao got two of the three snookers he required as he tested Williams to the limit, but the three-time world champion held firm to cut the gap to one.
After losing the fourth on account of a red running loose off the break, Williams reverted to the defensive roll-up option in the sixth. The irony was he left a red to left middle, but it did not prove costly as Zhao missed a tough cut on the black and the Welshman pounced in clinical fashion.
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Zhao was on the ropes on the back of Williams’ improved play, and it came as a surprise when the latter let his opponent off the hook by missing a red by a distance and leaving the table open.
After a few scrappy passages of play, Zhao showed his class with a nerve-steadying break of 89 to move back in front at 4-3.
A re-rack was required in the eighth, as both players did their best to hide the white with a red over a pocket.
The second stanza was also tactical, but Zhao took the bull by the horns with an audacious plant.
It was a pot worthy of winning any match. It did not win the match, but it set him on his way to a break of 70 and a place in the last 16 at the Tempodrom in Berlin.
Kyren Wilson disposed of Jimmy Robertson with the minimum of fuss, as breaks of 94 and 117 helped him secure a 5-1 win.
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