Aaron Hill’s brilliant run comes to an end against Chinese star Yan Bintao
Cork teenager earlier beat Matthew Stevens to add to famous win over Ronnie O’Sullivan
Aaron Hill went out 5-1 to China’s Yan Bingtao in the last-16 of the European Masters in Milton Keynes. Photograph: @We AreWST on Twitter
The 18-year-old tour rookie from Cork has made a spectacular start to his professional career over the past week in Milton Keynes.
The teenager’s life may never be quite the same after claiming a shock victory over six-time and reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday night.
Hill showed that was no fluke by following it up with a 5-3 win over former Masters champion and two-time World Championship finalist Matthew Stevens on Friday afternoon.
But the youngster, who gained his tour card by winning the European under-21 Championship, saw his challenge halted 5-1 at the last-16 stage by the world No 15.
Yan, just two years older than Hill at 20, already has a ranking title to his name having been successful at the Riga Masters last season.
He took charge of the match with breaks of 94 and 50, and with the next two frames shared Hill trailed 3-1 at the mid-session interval.
A 60 break from Yan left Hill on the brink at 4-1 down and the Chinese ace soon closed out the contest.
Hill said: “I was disappointed to lose tonight – but obviously there are a lot of positives to take from this week.
“And I can come away pleased with what I have done with a lot more confidence, and looking forward to the next event.
“Yan punished me for every mistake, and that’s what you get at this level.
“The win against Ronnie, my hero really, is something I will never forget. I have made a bit of a name for myself this week.
“And now I have a taste for it I would love to experience more of it in the future. It has been unbelievable.”
Hill will never forget only his second tournament as a professional, and he has served notice of some serious intent at the Marshall Arena – not to mention adding £6,000 to the coffers.
With Irish legend and former world champion Ken Doherty keeping an eye out for Hill away from the table, he appeared to relish every aspect of the big-tournament experience.
Lesser characters might easily have been shaken when two players failed Covid-19 tests, the first time that had happened in snooker, and three more were also sent home having come into contact with them.
But far from ruffled, Hill attacked his marquee clash with world No2 O’Sullivan with verve and courage, and after taking it to the winner of 37 ranking titles deserved some fortune in the decider.
Hill can take great pride from not only his performances but also the way he has handled all the scrutiny that comes with a high-profile win – and looks destined for a big future.