Iran's Hossein Vafaei secured a spot in the quarter-finals of the MrQ UK Championship with a commanding 6-1 victory over Matthew Selt in York. This milestone keeps Vafaei's hopes alive for Masters qualification, with a chance to secure his place at Alexandra Palace depending on the outcome of his quarter-final against Zhang Anda and Ding Junhui's match against Mark Williams.
Having navigated through two rounds of qualifying and defeating Shaun Murphy 6-4 in the opening round, Vafaei, ranked 18th globally, aims to become the first Iranian winner of a regulation format tournament after previously winning the Shoot Out in 2022.
Vafaei, familiar with success in York after defeating Mark Selby in previous years, showcased break-building prowess with runs of 132, 94, 56, 133, and 121 during his emphatic victory. Expressing satisfaction with his performance, Vafaei acknowledged the joy of playing in front of passionate fans at the York Barbican, emphasizing the unique thrill of such an experience. The 29-year-old player envisions positive outcomes for the snooker community in the Middle East if he secures a UK Championship win, foreseeing potential events like the Dubai Open, Saudi Open, and Qatar Open.
In another exciting match, Zhang Anda secured a place in the quarter-finals with a notable 6-4 victory over World Champion Luca Brecel. Zhang has been enjoying a stellar season, winning the International Championship earlier in the month and finishing as the runner-up to Judd Trump at the English Open. With the scores tied at 4-4, Zhang exhibited impressive form, closing the match with breaks of 124 and 68, solidifying his spot in the last eight and showcasing his potential for further success in the tournament.