Zhang Anda trying not to think about Ronnie O’Sullivan challenge at International Championship
Mighty Mouse is out to spring a surprise.
Zhang Anda is trying not to ponder the challenge of beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the International Championship too much, but Mighty Mouse knows he can beat the Rocket because he did it last month.
The 31-year-old has enjoyed a great run to the semi-finals in Tianjin, beating the likes of Mark Williams and Ding Junhui along the way, but things do not get any easier as he has the world number one ahead of him in the semis.
Thankfully for the Chinese he has cause for confidence as he beat O’Sullivan at the English Open just a few weeks ago on his run to the final in Essex.
That was Zhang’s first ranking event final, losing out to Judd Trump in Brentwood, and has been part of an excellent season so far.
He says that has been a huge turning point for him, releasing himself of nerves, but he knows that a huge challenge awaits him on Saturday.
‘The most important thing for me is the English Open. It’s more enjoyable for me to play snooker after that, more enjoyment than nervous,’ Zhang told WST.
‘In my mind, he [O’Sullivan] is not only the world number one but the best player in snooker the most legendary player, in many people’s minds too.
‘Don’t think about it too much. It’s just a game. Try to enjoy playing against him.’
Zhang is playing just his second ranking semi-final while O’Sullivan is in his 89th and the 47-year-old says things are trickier these days as he competes with players striving to get to the top, where he has been operating for 30 years.
‘Each match I win nowadays is one of the best wins of my life, because I’m old. I’ve been around a long time,’ said O’Sullivan after beating Ali Carter in the quarter-finals.
‘I’m not getting better and if anything I’m not the player I was. Players are all striving to achieve, young and hungry. It is harder now. Normally I would win tournaments quite easily and wouldn’t drop many frames even against the top players. It is tough now. I enjoy any win I get. Ali is one of the in form players this season. He is the in form player and I managed to beat him. So for me it is a great win.
‘Every occasion is a good one when I play, so it doesn’t matter who I am against really. I’ve always had good crowds, every match I have played is a big one. People want to beat me and take me down. I’ve had to deal with that all of my life so I’ve never played a match which isn’t a big one.’
The winner of O’Sullivan vs Zhang will take on Tom Ford in the final on Sunday after the Englishman beat Jordan Brown 9-6 in the first semi-final on Friday.
The second semi is played at 6am and 11.30am UK time on Saturday live on Discovery+ and Eurosport.
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