Ben Mertens, aged only 15, has become the youngest-ever match winner in the history of the snooker world championship, with a 6-2 victory over Englishman James Cahill, ranked WS-106.
Mertens, from Wetteren in East Flanders, lost the first frame to Cahill before drawing even in the second with a break of 63. He then took the next three frames to go 4-2 up.
Cahill rallied in the seventh with a break of 90, then Mertens opened the eight with a break of 48, before Cahill sank the white off a long red, and the match was all but over.
“It’s awesome,” he said afterwards. “I really can’t believe it. I was happy to get one frame on the board, but to immediately win six feels really great.”
He now goes on to the second round, and a match against another Englishman, Sam Baird (WS-77).
Mertens’ victory over Cahill had something of the giant-killer’s killer about it: in April last year Cahill played a first-round match against five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, considered by many as the greatest player ever, and won 10-8.
Meanwhile the 15-year-old is being compared with Belgium’s other star of the green baize Luca Brecel (WS-37) from Dilsen-Stokkem in Limburg.
Brecel holds records as the youngest ever European champion in the under-25 class, won when he was 14, and he was the youngest Belgian champion ever at 15. In 2012 he became the youngest player ever to qualify for the World Championship at 17 – a record Ben Mertens has now beaten.