Luca Brecel compares 'very special talent' Si Jiahui to former UK champion

Luca Brecel has hailed his World Championship semi-final opponent, Si Jiahui, as the brightest young talent from China ‘by a mile’ as he compared him to former UK Championship winner Zhao Xintong.

The pair are unexpected semi-finalists, although Si much more so than Brecel, with the Chinese sensation ranked at number 80 in the world coming into the Crucible.

The Belgian arrived as a seed but had never won a match at the Crucible on five previous visits, so for him to beat Ricky Walden, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan has been something of a surprise.

Brecel may not have expected to be playing Si in the last four, but he is not surprised to see the 20-year-old play well and is full of praise for him.

‘Si would be such an attacking game, I think,’ said Brecel on the prospect of facing the young talent after beating the Rocket.

‘He’s just number 80 in the world, it’s incredible, but I’ve seen him play many times, even a couple of years ago and he was already very good.

‘Now he’s ready to go to the top of the game, I think. He’s so good. He hits the ball better than anyone, I think. Very special talent.’

Asked if he is the best young Chinese player, Brecel said: ‘Yeah, by a mile. He’s a bit like Xintong, I think. Very special.’

Si has stunned the snooker world at the Crucible, and also in qualifying where he beat Florian Nuessle, Tom Ford and Jordan Brown, but he is enjoying playing with freedom and no pressure.

‘I’ve never played Luca before, I know he’s a very good player, very attacking,’ he said through a translator after beating Anthony McGill in the quarters.

‘I’m just going to enjoy it, everyone is much better than me, I’ll just have fun.’

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