News

Maximum Drama in York

Mark Davis beat John Higgins 6-5 in a thrilling contest that saw the Scot make a 147 break but miss what was effectively match ball pink in the decider at the UK Championship in York.

The last 16 encounter had everything in what proved to be the match of the tournament so far and one of the most dramatic of the year.

Davis, who has had a breakthrough season already by reaching two ranking event semi-finals and earning a top 16 place in the world rankings, looked to be heading to a memorable victory when he led 5-2 following successive century breaks of 106 and 103.

But if we have learned one thing down through the years it has been to never, ever write off four-time world champion John Higgins.

The Scot got in early in frame eight and duly compiled a thoroughly composed maximum break – his seventh in tournament play and the 95th overall in the sport, edging ever nearer to the magical ton.

Indeed, it’s the third of the UK Champs after Andy Hicks and Jack Lisowski’s knocks in the qualifiers last month.

Higgins never looked in trouble throughout the break and it looked to have spearheaded his challenge to turn around the tie.

The three-time champion of the event levelled at 5-5 and appeared set to clinch it at the death when on a clearance in the final of frame.

But he barely sank the yellow, played a poor positional shot to the blue and eventually wobbled the pink when only it and the black were needed to clinch the triumph.

Needing only the pink, Davis was intent on at least having a go and, following a missed attempt at a double, potted the ball to advance to the quarter-finals – where he will meet Welshman Matthew Stevens.

Higgins will no doubt be gutted and it is very unusual to see the 37 year-old flinch when his opponent is on the ropes but it just proves that the pressure can get to the very best of them, especially in as big a tournament as the UKs.

In what was an unbelievable day at the Barbican, teenager Luca Brecel continued his run by coming from 3-0 down to beat Mark King 6-4.

The Belgian wonder kid proved against Ricky Walden that he had bottle and it came to fruition again against the ever-dogged King.

Brecel’s success this week has firmly established the 17  year-old as a star of the future and he is now only three wins away from matching Ronnie O’Sullivan’s unbelievable success in the tournament 19 years ago at the same age.

With Shaun Murphy his next stumbling block, that possibility is still a long way away but few expected him to even make it this far so it would be foolish to write him off now.

Meanwhile, Mark Selby came from behind to overcome Ryan Day 6-4 in a match that mimicked Brecel’s in terms of pattern.

The Leicester man was also 3-0 down but, in truth, didn’t need to work all that hard to get back into the game as Day was absolutely dreadful.

Finally, Neil Robertson didn’t perform to the same high standard as his first round tie that included four centuries but had more than enough in reserve to oust Barry Hawkins 6-2.

A great day then in York – typical that it all kicked off on the day that I made the trip back home to Dublin. Oh well!

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here



Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.