UK Championship 2016 – Day 5

Maybe I should write “Day 4”, because it was the 4th day of actual play and it saw 16 of the 32 last 64 matches played to a finish. Here are the official reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session

Saturday 26 Nov 2016 08:14PM

John Higgins and Mark Selby both came through tough challenges at the Betway UK Championship to reach the third round.

World number four Higgins trailed 3-2 against Noppon Saengkham, 69 places below him in the rankings, but hit back to four of the last five frames with top breaks of 126, 52 and 66 to win 6-4. Higgins has won two titles within the past month, earning well over £300,000, and is looking to continue his hot streak here in York. He now faces Ben Woollaston or Paul Davison in the last 32.

“I dodged a bullet there, I’m just delighted to get through,” said two-time UK Champion Higgins. ““I really did think I’d be heading up the road when I went 4-3 down. A lot of these boys are not frightened of top players any more. I felt as if the luck had ran out but the luck’s still with me just now.”

Higgins admitted he was “too fat” to play a certain shot where he had to stretch over the table, but insisted he would not be following Neil Robertson’s example by taking up a vegan diet. “I enjoy eating meat too much,” laughed the Wizard of Wishaw.

World Champion Mark Selby also came through 6-4 after a long battle, beating Daniel Wells. Leicester’s Selby was 3-1 down, despite a run of 101 in the second frame, but won five of the last six frames with top runs of 102 and 61.

“It was a battle,” said Selby, who won the title here in 2012. “My focus dipped in and out. It is still the early stages of the tournament, I don’t want to peak too soon.”

Liam Highfield came from 4-1 down to beat Wang Yuchen 6-5 with a top break of 125 while Luca Brecel made two breaks of 102 in a 6-5 win over Sam Craigie.

Stephen Maguire top scored with 128 in a 6-2 defeat of Zhao Xintong while Mark Williams saw off Andrew Higginson by the same scoreline.

Welshman Williams continues to suffer from a neck injury “I’m in pain or discomfort every shot I play and it’s not getting any easier at all,” he said.

Evening session

Sunday 27 Nov 2016 12:02AM

Fergal O’Brien made an incredible five centuries in a 6-5 win over Barry Hawkins at the Betway UK Championship.

It’s the first time that any player has compiled five tons in a best-of-11 frame match, although Ronnie O’Sullivan once made five in a best-of-nine. World number 50 O’Brien is through to the last 32 at the York Barbican, where he will face Stephen Maguire.

O’Brien’s centuries were 101, 100, 111, 111 and a 113 in the decider. Hawkins himself made runs of 74, 59, 95, 83 and 78 in a high quality contest.

“It’s got to be up there with the best matches I’ve ever played,” said Dublin’s 44-year-old O’Brien. “It’s just great to play the way I can against a strong opponent.”

Stuart Bingham was another top 16 player to fall as he went down 6-4 to China’s Yu Delu. World number two Bingham led 4-3, but Yu won the last three frames with top breaks of 66 and 70.

Ali Carter top scored with 80 in a 6-2 win over Robbie Williams while 2003 UK Champion Matthew Stevens won a Welsh derby against Michael White 6-4.

“Bold” was added by me in the above record. Well done Fergal! Fergal once told me he sees himself as a “slow attacking player”, well attacking he certainly was out there!

Stephen Hendry was rather hatsh on twitter

Commentated on worlds no 1&2 today, both were rubbish

Fergal 5 ton obrien showed them how

Just say what I see

I didn’t watch Bingham’s match, but I followed the Selby one, and, indeed, Mark was very far from his best – as was John Higgins BTW. Daniel Wells is a good player but probably still lacks a bit of self-belief when he faces someone of Selby’s calibre, because he had the game to beat him on this form yesterday.

As for the Chinese teenagers, Zhao Xintong lost to Stephen Maguire but young Zhou Yuelong outplayed Michael Holt to progress.

Peter Lines won his last 64 match against Chris Wakelin and could very well regain his professional status through the one year list at the end of this season.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as usual.