Muhammad Usama Zafar ousted defending champion Gianmarco Tonini 5-4 in the final to win the 2023 Italian National Snooker Championship.
Organised by the Federazione Italiana Biliardo Sportivo (FIBiS) and held at the Torino Snooker Club in Turin, it was the eighth edition of the annual event as snooker continues to grow in Italy.
Competing in the Championship for the first time, Rome-based Zafar won all three of his group games to qualify for the knockout rounds where he defeated Eugenio Staccione 4-1 in the quarter-finals, and then top scored with a 61 break during a 4-1 victory against Valerio Grandi in the last four.
Two-time reigning champion Tonini didn’t drop a single frame as he made his way to final for the fourth time. After navigating his group, Tonini registered breaks of 79 (highest of the tournament) and 57 as he eliminated 2021 winner Marco Palmieri 4-0 in the last eight, and a 62 in a 4-0 win over Victor Palomba in the semi-finals.
Tonini claimed the opening two frames of the final, but Zafar countered as he strung together four consecutive frames to move one away from the trophy. The title holder won the next two frames (50 break, frame seven) to make it 4-4 and force a decider, but 23-year-old Zafar was not to be denied as he became the newest first-time champion.
Elsewhere on the Italian domestic scene, Davide Minuto defeated Francesco Fava 4-2 in the final to win the Serie B national title, while Valentino Bonfiglio got the better of Geremia Orsi, 3-1, to secure Serie C.
The images above are courtesy of FIBiS