UK Championship 2017 – Day 3

Yesterday in York saw the conclusion of the last 128 round and provided another shock, albeit I guess, for many fans a pleasant one. Indeed Jimmy White beat Ali Carter fair and square; the score was 6-2 to the Whirlwind. Otherwise the seeds went through, including Ronnie. There was also a lesser shock as Matthew Stevens crashed out at the hands of Hammad Miah.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Snooker legend Jimmy White scored his best result in recent years by beating Ali Carter 6-2 in the first round of the Betway UK Championship.

It’s 25 years since White won this tournament but the 55-year-old proved that he still has the game to compete with the top stars with a surprise win over world number 14 Carter.

White dropped off the pro tour at the end of last season but was able to return with an invitational tour card. He has enjoyed some impressive results this term, reaching the last 32 of last week’s Northern Ireland Open, but nothing as significant as this victory over four-time ranking event winner Carter.

From 2-1 down, White made a crucial yellow-to-black clearance to square the tie at the interval. The Londoner also took the next two frames on the colours to lead 4-2, then finished superbly with breaks of 128 and 61 in the last two frames.

Ali is a top player,” said ten-time ranking event winner White, who now faces Kurt Maflin on Saturday night. “The first few frames were scrappy but from 4-2 up I played well. If there’s one thing I still know, it’s how to win. I had a couple of good wins in Belfast last week which gave me some confidence.

“I know I can do it, because I still do it in the odd match here and there. The big tournaments are the ones you really want to excel in. If my game is on I can beat anyone, I have proved that to myself today. I’ll practise for the next couple of days and look forward to the next match. It was really nice to get a lot of support today at a great venue.

Ronnie O’Sullivan booked his place in the last 64 with a 6-3 win over Welsh 16-year-old Jackson Page. O’Sullivan is seeking his third ranking title of the season having landed the English Open and Shanghai Masters.

UKChamps2017L128ROS-1

The Rocket started strongly with breaks of 80 and 117 to go 2-0 up, but talented amateur Page did not buckle on the big stage and hit back to take the next two frames with a top run of 63. O’Sullivan won the next three for 5-2 before Page pulled one back with a 65. World number four O’Sullivan then sealed the result with a 105 in frame nine. He will now face Michael Georgiou on Sunday afternoon.

Five-time UK Champion O’Sullivan had high praise for tonight’s opponent, saying: “He’s by far the best British player I’ve seen in his age group. He’s a raw talent and there are things he has to work on, like his positional play, but they are things which are easy to improve. He’s got a great temperament and he enjoys it out there. Some of his safety was fantastic.

“I played ok, nothing special. I just go out there and do a job and try to be clinical in my thinking. Hopefully I’ll play a bit better in the next round.”

Northern Ireland Open champion Mark Williams kept his run of form going as he saw off Paul Davison 6-0 with a top run of 88. However the Welshman’s wife Joanne remains ill in hospital and he has yet to decide whether to withdraw from the tournament.

Last night she was in theatre for three hours, having blood injected into her spine,” said Williams. “If she is really bad today then I will go home. If at any stage she wants me to go back then I will. I don’t want to pull out of the second biggest tournament of the season but I just have to play it by ear.”

Neil Robertson was in fine form in a 6-1 win over Rod Lawler, firing breaks of 118, 126 and 101 in consecutive frames. The result keeps alive the Australian’s hopes of qualifying for the Masters – for the latest on that race click here.

I played really well and to make three centuries in a row in front of a good crowd was a nice feeling,” said two-time UK Champion Robertson.

Michael Holt came from 5-3 down to edge out Niu Zhuang 6-5 while three-time UK finalist Ken Doherty saw off Gary Wilson 6-3.

Liang Wenbo top scored with 130 in a 6-1 win over Sanderson Lam while Barry Hawkins beat Kurt Dunham 6-1 with a top break of 97. Matthew Stevens, UK Champion 14 years ago, lost 6-3 to Hammad Miah.

Regarding Ronnie’s match, I though he played well, not at his best but well.

UKChamps2017L128RonWin

Here is the match:

When I read that Ronnie was to face Jackson Page instead of Rhys Clark, I admit that I thought “Oh no!” because I knew that this was a potential banana skin especially in a first round of a major tournament. Players will tell you that it’s always a tricky round to negotiate. The boy is a ferocious potter, and he’s Mark Williams protégé – he played a couple of “under the body” shots BTW. It’s great to have such a good young prospect in the game and, as it is, a tougher opener often help the player who comes out the winner to settle in the tournament and to focus. Ronnie was full of praise at his press conference.

UKChamps2017L128RonPresser

He will now face Michael Georgiou on Sunday afternoon.

As for Mark Williams, all I can say is that I’m wishing his wife, his family and himself the best. Jo is seriously ill, meningitis for what transpired, and this is far more important than any game of snooker.