Wonderful Walden Wins Shanghai Masters!

World number 35 Ricky Walden caused a huge upset today to sensationally defeat world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 to claim his first ranking title. A long overdue breakthrough, it goes without saying that this is the highlight of his career so far. Click below to read just how he did it:

Ricky Walden 10-8 Ronnie O’Sullivan

What a day, indeed what a week for Ricky Walden who joins the winners circle at last by winning the Shanghai Masters today. Make no mistake either, he was the better player on the day and fully deserved his win against the best player in the world.

Final session

Going into the session trailing 5-4 when at one point he could have led the afternoon session 4-1, some might have thought that Ricky had missed the boat somewhat and that O’Sullivan would make him pay for it tonight. Ricky obviously had other ideas however as he took the opening frame of the session with a cool 95 break, though Ronnie hit back immediately with his second century of the match to restore his lead.

Walden again rallied to level it at 6-6 before one of the key moments of the final came in frame 13. With O’Sullivan in the balls and with a chance to move into a 7-6 lead at the interval, not for the first time today he suffered a piece of bad luck with a terrible kick which let Ricky back in who was to make no mistake.

Now finding himself in front 7-6, it was a shame for Walden that it was time for the interval as Ronnie just seemed to be losing focus and the break was a chance for the world champion to get his head together. A break of 82 in the first frame back appeared to confirm this as he levelled the match again, before he also had the first chance in the next.

This is where Walden once again showed the form that had taken him to the final however as he managed to steal the frame before moving 9-7 up, thanks in part to a run of 48 in frame 16.

Pressure right on

Now just one frame away from his first ranking event victory, against Ronnie O’Sullivan no less, there must surely have been nerves building up inside Ricky Walden. Could he hold it together? Would his inexperience at this stage in an event get the better of it?

At first it appeared that this might indeed be the case as in frame 17 with a chance to win the match, he missed a relatively simple cutback to the left centre which gave O’Sullivan something of a lifeline. The world number one showed why he is so strong by taking it with both hands, bringing the scoreline back to 9-8 as Walden could only look on.

Walden wins it

With O’Sullivan in first in the next frame it looked like Walden’s mistake would prove to be a huge moment in the match as at 9-9, surely Ronnie would have been a huge favourite to hold it together given his experience.

It was never to make it this stage however as O’Sullivan missed a tricky cutback on a red to a corner pocket and gave Walden another chance. With the balls not in the most straightforward situation for a clearance, what followed was a hugely impressive break given the pressure and the circumstances that Walden was facing. Potting a few tricky shots along the way, just as against Steve Davis in the quarter-final he not only won the match, but he did it in some style with a terrific century break.

A victory that many would have expected to have come some time before now, it will be interesting to see whether Ricky will be able to build on this during the rest of the season and become a regular challenger at the highest level. Given the form he has shown this week it would be hard to bet against it, and having qualified for the Grand Prix that starts in just six days time, we won’t have too long to wait before we have some idea.

O’Sullivan meanwhile should not be too disappointed given the amount of success that has come his way recently. Though falling short with his attempt to become just the third player ever to win three consecutive ranking events, he has increased his already sizeable advantage at the top of the rankings further and will be a heavy favourite to take the Grand Prix title in Glasgow once again.

First Session: Ricky Walden 4-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan 0-88(48,39, 61(47)-47(32), 113(74)-20, 99(94)-4, 22-86(58), 0-95(64,31), 1-87(87), 77(56)-38(30), 0-78(78)
Second Session: Ricky Walden 10-8 Ronnie O’Sullivan, 104(95)-0, 5-122(108), 78(30,48)-21, 65(48)-25, 16-82(82), 73(59)-23, 84(48)-4, 30-66(43), 105(105)-11