Ding Junhui ended Ronnie O’Sullivan’s two-year reign as UK Champion with a 6-4 victory in a pulsating Last 16 encounter in York on Thursday.
O’Sullivan had gone 17 games unbeaten in the prestigious Triple Crown tournament, but Ding produced an inspired display to end that run and with it his latest quest for a record 37th ranking title.
The Chinese sensation raced to the opening three frames without O’Sullivan potting a ball, before ‘The Rocket’ fought back to parity at four apiece after a spell-binding burst of three consecutive frames in less than 25 minutes.
Ding, however, steadied the ship by taking frame nine before dominating the tenth to complete a memorable win.
“Before the match I was feeling like I wanted to win today,” Ding told BBC Sport.
“I know I played good in the last round so I just had to be confident.
“I know what he’s like and I knew a comeback was on the way.
“This is a really big win for me so I’m very happy.”
Ding made a dream start by producing consecutive breaks of 81, 52 and 110 to leave O’Sullivan without a point to his name.
The defending champion did get off the mark in frame four with a break of 78, but only for Ding to dominate frame five and regain a three-frame cushion after the interval.
O’Sullivan then turned on the style with three quick-fire breaks of 77, 107 and 124 to haul himself back on level terms for the first time and set up a grandstand finish.
The world number two, however, missed his chance to punish Ding in frame ten as the two-time UK Champion made a 54 break to edge within one of victory – which he went on to seal in the following frame.
O’Sullivan, who was celebrating his 44th birthday, admitted: “I’m quite happy with four frames to be honest with you!
“I was sitting there thinking it could be 6-0 or 6-1 on my birthday.
“I managed to win a few frames, got back to four-all then twitched a red and he played well towards the end so I’ve got no complaints.
“Ding held himself together well and you have to give him credit for that, it was an enjoyable match to be involved in.
“I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to get the result today.”
Ding will now face his compatriot Liang Wenbo in the Quarter-Finals at the York Barbican on Friday.