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Seeds Starting to Dominate in York

Several of the top players flexed their muscles on Monday as the UK Championship begins to heat up nicely.

Four former champions booked their place in the last 16 and they were joined by a trio of other ranking event winners.

The match of the day featured Liang Wenbo and Stephen Maguire, the latter of which was featuring in his second successive decider.

Maguire came from 5-2 behind to beat Luca Brecel in the second round and he had to retrieve the situation once more, this time after being one down with two to play.

The Scot has shown real grit and determination so far in this tournament, perhaps stemming from a relatively poor season by his standards, and he overturned the deficit to overcome Liang 6-5.

It was an entertaining encounter that featured three centuries, a 112 and 102 from Maguire and a 107 from his Chinese opponent.

There were seven Scotsmen featuring in the last 32, six of whom were playing on Monday, but it was a mixed day for the Highlanders.

2004 champion Maguire was joined by John Higgins after the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ ousted compatriot Jamie Burnett 6-4.

It was a mixed performance from Higgins but he did just about enough to see off the Hamilton potter.

Graeme Dott made it a treble after he emerged victorious in a very important clash with Ali Carter 6-3.

The 2006 world champion did his chances of being invited to the upcoming lucrative Masters no harm by seeing off Carter, who is a close rival in the top 15 rankings list that count towards qualification.

However, Joe Perry is also in the hunt for a place and kept his hopes alive with a similar 6-3 success over teenager Scott Donaldson.

Finally for the Scottish contingent, Anthony McGill unfortunately came up against a more fluent Stuart Bingham than had met Jimmy White and was felled in a one-sided contest 6-2.

The highest quality affair, though, was reserved for the eagerly awaited tie between Judd Trump and Xiao Guodong.

Xiao, this season’s Shanghai Masters runner-up, knocked in a brace of excellent 106 century breaks but those were to be the only frames he collected as a rampant Trump triumphed 6-2.

The 2011 champion himself compiled three tons, including a superb 133 to complete the win, and appears to be growing in confidence after a quiet first half to this campaign.

Trump’s struggles of late are closely linked to his lack of dedication on the practice table and the distractions he allowed himself to be tempted by in his private life.

Yet, it was never any question as to whether or not he would regain his form – he is too talented and it was simply a matter of time.

Likewise fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy, who has also been enduring a difficult time of it of late.

But the 2008 winner has recovered well after going 3-0 behind in the second round, his opening match following a walkover, and has since won 12 out of the 14 frames he’s played.

The 31 year-old beat Noppon Saengkham 6-2 and his win sets up an interesting clash with World Championship finalist Barry Hawkins, who held off a strong fightback from Gary Wilson to eventually prevail 6-4.

The last 64 was also brought to a conclusion on the seventh day of action at the Barbican.

Defending champion Mark Selby reversed a 3-1 mid-session interval deficit to oust China’s Tian Pengfei 6-3 while favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan was again nowhere near his best but recorded the same score against Adam Duffy.

World no.1 Neil Robertson had a much easier time of it and admitted to bullying his challenger Robbie Williams on the table en route to a 6-1 drubbing of the Indian Open semi-finalist.

Last, but by no means least, was another astounding victory for amateur Mitchell Travis, underlining that his upset of seventh seed Marco Fu was no fluke by overcoming Kurt Maflin 6-4.

It’s a remarkable run for Travis, who will now earn at least 9,000 pounds for his efforts – a small fortune for an amateur player.

The Englishman’s next obstacle is Ireland’s David Morris, who now has a wonderful opportunity to reach the last 16 of the sport’s second biggest ranking event.

Tuesday will see that fourth round line-up completed, with the likes of Selby, O’Sullivan, Robertson, Mark Allen, Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens all in action.

Ding Junhui, bidding for a fourth ranking title in a row, takes on the ‘Ferginator’ Fergal O’Brien.

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.