Zhao Xintong is the "new superstar of snooker” and will take his game to a new level following his win over Luca Brecel in the final of the UK Championship, according to Jimmy White.
It has taken over a decade for a youngster who was beating Steve Davis as a teenager and knocking in centuries as a 10-year-old against Mark Williams in exhibitions to announce himself on the major stage.
But the potential was turned into end product at the Barbican on Sunday, as he dominated Brecel for a 10-5 success to lift the Triple Crown event.
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As well as the trophy and a cheque for £200,000, the 24-year-old secured a place in the 2022 Masters - and White feels he is here to stay.
“He is a new superstar of snooker,” White said in the Eurosport studio. “Ronnie O'Sullivan has been texting me on his way up to the Scottish Open saying ‘this kid is on fire.’
“It was fantastic from start to finish and a worthy winner. He will win many, many trophies.”
White feels Zhao has extra gears to use, but says he needs to improve his tactical side of the game to complement his brilliant potting and break-building ability.
“He will take it to another level now,” White said. “What he’s got is he can pot an enormous amount of very difficult shots. The easy part of the game, once he is in the balls, he has that part of the game covered.
“He does not have the tactical side yet, so if he is playing a Mark Selby or a John Higgins, they may trap him. But if he is potting them long balls, which he is better than we have seen, you won’t be able to stop him.”
White is convinced Zhao’s mindset will ensure he does not take his eye off the ball.
“Some have got the talent but don’t work all the time,” White said. “He has moved over to the UK, lives in Sheffield and is practising in the academy every day.
“He will be thereabouts at the business end of most tournaments as he is not going to stop playing, he is not going to do the wrong things. He is going to keep practicing and he is going to want to win more trophies.”
Speaking on Eurosport after his win, Zhao said: “I am just so happy. It is an exciting night tonight. I love York.
“It is the biggest match for me, the first time in the final and I tried my best. I feel very happy to do it.”
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