Ryan Day finally secured his maiden ranking event title after a superb victory in the Riga Masters on Sunday
Ryan Day finally secured his maiden ranking event title after a superb victory in the Riga Masters on Sunday in Latvia.
The Welshman emerged from a very tough route to claim the £50,000 winner’s cheque, but more importantly he silenced the doubters who thought he would never get his hands on some silverware.
After whitewashing Joe Perry in the quarter-finals, Day compiled a wonderful 77 break to deny countryman Mark Williams in an entertaining last four encounter which went the distance.
It set up his fifth final appearance in a ranking event final with a record of four defeats from his previous outings at that stage – including earlier this year at the World Grand Prix.
Stephen Maguire stood in the 37 year-old’s way after the Scot, himself looking to collect a first ranking trophy since 2013, cruelly put an end to the romantic run of Ken Doherty in the semi-finals.
Maguire trailed the Irishman 4-3 but forced a decider, and a run of 54 duly helped him into the final.
After a grueling day, the 36 year-old appeared to have nothing left in reserve as Day, unfazed from the immense pressure he must have been under, reeled off the opening four frames of the final to establish a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session interval.
The challenge from Maguire finally came with an excellent 119 upon the restart and he got to within two frames after winning the next frame as well.
However, Day scored a 58 break in the seventh frame to seal the 5-2 triumph and he now joins the illustrious band of names who have won a ranking event in the sport.
For years the conversation of who was the best player to have never won a ranker centred predominantly on Day and Anthony Hamilton.
The latter broke his duck in February when he incredible won the German Masters at the tender age of 45.
Day’s victory comes not long after and at a time when there seems to be so many first-time champions on the circuit.
Anthony McGill, Liang Wenbo, and Mark King also enjoyed debut success during last season.
Maguire will be disappointed to have come so far in the tournament before stumbling at the final hurdle but his progress proves that his revival at the tail end of the last campaign wasn’t a fleeting occurrence.
The former UK champion is far too good a player to be outside the top 16 and he is beginning to show the form and mettle that had him held in high regard earlier in his career.
It will be hard pressed, though, to find anyone who would begrudge Day his defining moment in the sport after almost two decades as a professional and so many near misses.
Some naysayers will point out that there were numerous marquee names absent from Riga over the weekend including world champion Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ding Junhui, Judd Trump, and John Higgins.
But the players Day did overcome en route to his glory prove that he was well worth the success.
The former world number six edged Williams, Barry Hawkins, and Kyren Wilson in deciders, and also ousted Perry and Robert Milkins before his conquest of Maguire in Sunday’s showdown.
It will be interesting to see how this memorable moment affects his career moving forward, as Day is still young enough to challenge for major honours in the future.