A STUNNING spell of high-class snooker from Ricky Walden helped him to his third and biggest major career ranking title as he beat Mark Allen to win the International Championship.
An entertaining final looked set to be in for a thrilling finish when the players were deadlocked at 7-7 before the Englishman produced a brilliant run of heavy scoring hitting breaks of 85, 103 and 62 to clinch the final 10-7.
Walden, who previously won the 2008 Shanghai Masters and the 2012 Wuxi Classic, took home the trophy and the top cash prize of £125,000 while Allen was left to reflect on his second consecutive major final defeat in succession following his defeat to Stuart Bingham in the Shanghai Masters in September.
Since beating Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the 2008 Shanghai Masters title, Walden – the world number 11- has enjoyed much success on the baize and is established as one of the sport’s elite. Last year Walden looked set to reach the final of the World Championship before he fell victim to a impressive comeback from Barry Hawkins.
And his bid to win his third major title got off to an impressive start as he won three of the opening four frames to earn a 3-1 lead.
Allen, who reached the final following a dramatic semi-final win over Mark Williams, started to find his range after the interval as breaks of 43 and 113 got him back to level terms.
The next two frames were shared before Allen closed the session into the lead for the first time thanks to a break of 52.
But the break came at the wrong time for Allen as Walden was the quicker to settle after the restart as breaks of 45 and 47 soon got him back level at 5-5.
The first real turning point came in frame eleven when Allen lost position while in the balls leading 44-39. It led to the world number 8 missing a tricky red with the cueball close to the side cushion which handed Walden the chance to regain the lead at 6-5 and he made no mistake.
Walden then moved two frames clear for the first time since going 3-1 ahead when a superb pot on the red along the baulk cushion led to a break of 85.
In trouble, Allen responded just when he needed to hitting breaks of 68 and 74 to level the scores and set up a wonderful finish in store.
But Walden refused to let Allen’s comeback get the better of him as a break of 85 put him back into the lead before he delivered his first century break of the contest (103) at the perfect time to leave him on the verge of the title leading 9-7.
And it was all over in the next frame as Walden continued his wonderful spell hitting a run of 54 before a fluke on a red started a match-winning break of 62
It is not long before the pair meet again as they have been drawn to face each other in next week’s Champion of Champions event taking place in Coventry. Allen and Walden will meet on Friday (November 7) in their group encounter.
Ricky Walden’s Route to International Championship Glory:
R1 – beat David MORRIS 6-3
R2 – beat Zhou YUELONG 6-5
R3 – beat Joe SWAIL 6-4
QF – beat Jamie BURNETT 6-1
SF – beat Robert MILKINS 9-2