/ Snooker

Brecel becomes youngest ever Crucible contender

Updated: Sunday, 15 Apr 2012 19:50

Stephen Hendry racked up four of his seven world titles before Luca Brecel was born
Stephen Hendry racked up four of his seven world titles before Luca Brecel was born

Belgian teenager Luca Brecel shattered Stephen Hendry's record to become the youngest player to earn a place at the Betfred.com World Championship.

Brecel, who is 17 years and 36 days old, beat Essex's Mark King 10-8 in the final round of qualifying, his fourth win of the week.

And he will feature in Monday’s first-round draw for the event which begins at the Crucible on Saturday.

Hendry, who was also 17 but almost two months older when he first qualified in 1986, also went through, triumphing 10-6 against China's Yu Delu.

Brecel believes he is destined to win the world title in his career, and he will go to the Crucible with a fearless attitude, ready to take on anyone, even reigning champion John Higgins.

He said: "I feel absolutely fantastic. I didn't expect this to happen this week.

"I didn't think about becoming the youngest ever at all, although I knew about the record.

"I believe I can be a future world champion.

"Everybody is following me in Belgium and it's just going to go crazy there now."

The youngster made a nine-minute 147 break aged just 12, and has been waiting for his big chance.

"I went to the Crucible last year to watch some matches so I'll know what to expect," he said.

"I haven't thought about who I want to play next."

Asked if he would gladly take on Higgins, he said: "I wouldn't be afraid."

He is the fifth 17-year-old in history to reach the Crucible, after Hendry, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and Liu Chuang.

Seven-time champion Hendry, now 43, succeeded where six-time champion Steve Davis and six-time runner-up Jimmy White both failed this week by coming through the qualifying tournament.

The Scot, who last had to qualify in 1988 and has been ever-present at the Crucible since 1986, has fallen to 23rd in the world rankings and was close to retiring last year.

"I'm very pleased to be through," Hendry said.

He leaves for a business trip to China tomorrow, returning on Friday, a day before the World Championship begins.

He is hoping to be among the late starters, affording him the weekend to shake off any jet lag, but that is up to the luck of the draw.

Today he had breaks of 73, 69, 76 and 88. Yesterday he fired in breaks of 129 and 107.

"I played quite nicely," Hendry said.

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