Young Chinese sensation Zhang Anda may have lost in the first round of the 2010 World Snooker Championships, but the debutant showed the Crucible audience a sign of things to come in his defeat to seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry.
The 18-year-old showed no signs of the now mythical ‘crucible pressure’ as he came from 4-0 down to come within one frame of defeating the great Steven Hendry in front of millions of Chinese fans watching the latest import back home.
Hendry was made to produce the same kind of form that brought the Scott seven World Championship titles taking the final three frames of the match to seal a hard fought victory and he had some kind words to say after the match about his spirited opponent.
He told World Snooker, “I thought Zhang was phenomenal, he showed no nerves. Obviously he had nothing to lose and you can raise your game, but by the same token he could have froze out there. Yesterday I played some of my best safety, and he just kept knocking in balls from tight under the baulk rail.
At 9-7 down I had my retirement speech ready for the press. I just felt that this sums it all up, at the end of a poor season, losing in the first round at the Crucible. I was sat in my chair thinking that’s what I used to do when I was eighteen. Amongst the balls he never looked like missing.”
Zhang himself didn’t seem too downhearted with his final-frame defeat and was indeed delighted with his debut performance at the Crucible, he was however honoured to be playing against his experienced opponent.
“I was very pleased with my performance throughout the match. I learned so much from the game, I liked the atmosphere but was so focused on the match I didn’t notice the pressure. It was an honour to play Stephen as he is the biggest name in snooker.”
To come from behind, show no pressure and almost defeat the sports greatest ever player on his first appearance at the Crucible is a huge achievement. If the 18year-old continues to keep that sort of standard against the worlds top 16, he himself could well find himself one of the elite in the not so distant future.