Higgins Through in Decider

Defending champion John Higgins made it through the opening day of the 2011 UK Championship in York after a 6-5 defeat of tenacious Rory McLeod.

It was a fantastic opening day in York, the first time the second major has been held in the city since 2006, despite the controversial changes to the format.

One of the positives from a reduced schedule is that all 31 encounters this week will be televised and that paid dividend this morning as both opening clashes offered a pair of deciding frame thrillers.

Slugger McLeod, who frequently gets lambasted in the press for being a slow player, conjured up a 4-2 lead and appeared set to upset the current world champion.

However, Higgins increased his gear and won the subsequent three frames and, although his English opponent forced a decider, the former world number one was able to see off a nervy victory.

Perhaps even more dramatic was Ding Junhui’s triumph over Mark Davis.

There was never much between the pair after mid session interval ended at two apiece and the Englishman took a 5-4 lead to take the advantage.

Yet, a killer-blow final black brought the decider and a topsy-turvy final frame ensued.

Ding appeared odds on to claim victory but missed an easy black off the spot while on a break of 61 to allow Davis in with a chance to steal victory.

Davis, though, missed a long blue to the green pocket to seal the clearance and, unbelievable, the Chinese Sensation fluked the subsequent pink to claim victory.

Ding has already won the UK Championship on two occasions and it would not be a surprise to see him go on from here and lift the trophy for a third time.

Elsewhere, Neil Robertson and Graeme Dott handed 6-1 thrashings at the hands of Tom Ford and Matthew Selt respectively.

Finally, Matthew Stevens knocked in two fabulous breaks of 140 and 136 to beat Marcus Campbell 6-2 and 2004 champion Stephen Maguire reeled off the last three frames to beat compatriot Stephen Hendry 6-3.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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