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Muhammad Asif stuns seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry

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CHELTENHAM: Pakistan’s professional snooker player Muhammad Asif stunned seven-time World Snooker Champion Stephen Hendry in the qualifying round of the ongoing British Open 2023 here on Monday.

Asif, who earned a two-year professional card for the World Snooker Tour (WST) in June last year, tasted a major triumph as he downed Hendry 4-2 in the best of seven.

The qualifying round match between Hendry and Asif got off to a contrasting start as the seven-time world champion pulled ahead, courtesy of a brilliant break of 73.

Muhammad Asif, however, was quick to react and won the next three frames to move one within the victory.

Hendry then managed to pull one back, edging Asif by the score of 74-43 in the fifth frame.

But Muhammad Asif, with momentum in his favour, kept his nerves calm and halted Stephen Hendry’s comeback by winning the match-defining frame.

Former champion Hendry scored the biggest break of the match (73) in the first frame while Muhammad Asif’s 66 was only the other 50-plus break, came in the sixth.

Meanwhile, another professional Pakistan cueist Asjad Iqbal will compete against China’s Tian Pengfei in the ongoing qualifying round on August 16.

Shoaib Arif, the founder of Pro Snooker PK, who supported national snooker players Asif and Asjad to become the first cueists from the country to earn a professional card in the World Snooker Tour (WST), congratulated the nation on the historic feat for the country and termed it as “a gift on the independence day”.

After earning the professional card, both Asjad Iqbal and Muhammad Asif participated in several ranking titles but failed to make it big.

Asjad Iqbal had a dream run in the Snooker Shoot Out in January this year when he downed England’s counterpart, Jimmy Robertson 73-33 to book a spot in the Round of 32.

Asjad, who stunned David Gilbert in the first round, carried on his momentum to add Robertson to the list of scalped opponents.

In the Round of 64 clash against Robertson, Asjad displayed utter domination as he outclassed his opponent with a gigantic margin of 40 points.

The Pakistani cueist was trailing by five points till the eighth minute before he scripted yet another astounding comeback and sealed the victory; courtesy of a Break of 64.

With his precision and by holding his nerves calm, it was an easy affair for the national cueist in the closing moments before the match timer ran out.

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