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Asif clinches world snooker crown

Muhammad Asif became the second Pakistani cueist to win the IBSF World Snooker Championship in Sofia, Bulgaria, after overpowering England’s Gary Wilson 10-8 in a thrilling final on Sunday night.

Muhammad Yousuf was the first Pakistani to clinch the world amateur crown in South Africa in 1994. “I have been dethroned,” were Yousaf’s first words over Asif’s victory.

Two-time national champion Muhammad Asif, who was unbeaten in the tournament, won the title after defeating England’s Gary Wilson 10-8 in a match lasting over nine hours.

Thirty-year-old Asif, from Faisalabad, is the third Pakistani to reach the final of the amateur World Championship as well – Yousaf won the title in 1994, whereas Muhammad Saleh lost to India’s Pankaj Advani in 2004.

This was Asif’s fourth appearance in the tournament. His previous best run at the event was last year; he was ranked among the top 32 cueists at the time.

Asif started off his campaign in Bulgaria with confidence, defeating Australia’s Vinnie Calabrese 5-0 in the first round. He overcame Egypt’s Wael Talaat 5-2 in the pre-quarterfinal, crushed Syria’s Mer Alkojah 6-2 in the quarterfinal and outclassed Malta’s Alex Borg 7-1 in the semifinal to make it to the final.

He started Sunday’s match confidently as well, taking a 6-3 lead at the end of the first session in the best of 19-frame final. The 30-year-old continued the match at 7-5 despite Wilson’s break of 111 in the 12th frame.

However, Wilson regained his focus in the subsequent two frames, equalising the score 7-7.

The two battled in the 14th frame. Asif claimed it only to lose the next one as Wilson forced the break of 59 in the 16th frame.

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