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Mark Allen sees off Zhang Anda to seal Players Championship crown

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Mark Allen v Zhang Anda live stream | Players Championship 2024 Final preview

Allen claimed his third silverware of the season on Sunday

Mark Allen clinched the 2024 Players Championship crown after seeing off Zhang Anda 10-8 in the final on Sunday.

The Pistol captured his third silverware of the season after prevailing in a hard-fought battle at the Telford International Centre to land the top prize of ยฃ125,000.

Allen, who also triumphed at the Champion of Champions and Shoot Out earlier in the campaign, took his career ranking title tally to 11 as he closed the gap to good friend Shaun Murphy (12) on the all-time list.

Meanwhile, there was to be no second title of the season for International Championship winner Zhang, who subsequently missed out on snatching the final qualifying spot for the lucrative Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker in eight days’ time.

“It was tough all day. With how well Zhang’s played all week, I think I actually dragged him down a little bit today,” Allen told ITV Sport.

“I gave it everything. My safety was good and kept me in the match. That wasn’t a lot of fun to be involved in, but I’m very happy to be standing here the winner.

“I’ve won five [ranking titles] in the last couple of years. I want to keep doing that. If I can get to 20 or 30 by the end of my career then I’ve done all right.

“But, I’ll probably look back at my career as a disappointment if I don’t win the World Championship, so that’s what I’m gearing towards now.

“It’s a busy spell with a lot of big tournaments. Hopefully, I can keep winning matches the way I am, but it’d be nice to find a little bit of form as well.”

It had been a week to remember for Zhang on his maiden appearance in the elite 16-man tournament, beating John Higgins and Mark Selby to reach his third final of the campaign.

Having been quick out of the blocks against Higgins and Selby – surging into 5-1 and 4-0 leads respectively – he followed suit here, taking a lengthy opening frame on the pink before breaks of 82 and 70 put him 3-0 to the good.

Allen – now having appeared in the final of all three events in the Players Series since its introduction in the 2018-19 season – responded with runs of 41, 30, 33 and 101 to square things up at 3-3.

Zhang edged his nose back in front with 64, but a cracking long black saw the Pistol level once more at 4-4 heading into the evening session.

After the next four frames were shared, the Chinese had the first opportunity of the 13th and was unfortunate to knock in a red on 30 while splitting the pack from the blue.

Allen stepped in with 64 and snatched a dramatic 14th frame on the black after Zhang missed a tight pink to level the final again.

The next two frames were split to leave the Pistol one from victory, but his opponent had a run of 50 as he eventually stayed alive on the colours.

However, it merely served to momentarily delay the coronation as contributions of 40 and 24 finally saw the world number three over the line.

“This week, I didn’t do bad,” Zhang added. “The score should have been 7-7 and 8-8, I just missed a very important pink and yellow. Mark played so well and his safety was so good.

“This is an amazing season for me. I just try everything I can. I just hope next time, I can do better.”