Morris Moves into Round Two

David Morris is into the second round of the 2014 UK Championship after a battling 6-4 victory over Li Hang in York.

David Morris - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos
David Morris – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos

The Kilkenny cueist, who reached the last 16 at the Barbican this time last year, was pushed almost all the way by his Chinese opponent but eventually pulled clear having found himself 3-1 down at the interval.

It should serve as a confidence-booster for the Irishman, who turns 26 on Thursday, following a first half to the season that hasn’t been as free-flowing with memorable victories as the 2013/14 campaign.

Part of the reason for this is a back injury Morris suffered in the gym during the summer, which hampered his practice sessions and ensured that he had only won three matches so far this season prior to this week.

If Morris was hoping for a more manageable route for the first couple of rounds he’ll be in for a rude awakening, though.

World champion Mark Selby awaits the former Wuxi Classic quarter-finalist in the last 64 after a whitewash win over amateur Oliver Brown.

Selby wasn’t at his high-scoring best despite the one-sided scoreline, perhaps because of a lack of preparation following the birth of his first child a couple of weeks ago.

However, the ‘Jester’ still managed a 124 in the last frame to wrap up the victory and it will serve as a good warm up with tougher tests to follow.

Morris might still be able to catch Selby cold but he himself will need to score heavier having only hit one 50 break in his triumph over Li.

Morris’ countrymen didn’t enjoy the best of times of it as Fergal O’Brien and John Sutton exited in the opening round.

Amateur Sutton, who reached the final round of Q-School last May, wasn’t expected to oust the formidable Ding Junhui and suffered a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of one of the favourites.

However, O’Brien started as the clear favourite against Brazilian Igor Figueiredo, who was contesting his first match of the season.

The Dubliner had runs of 100, 89 and 88 throughout but his challenger fought well to lead 4-1 and, despite O’Brien leveling the tie, Figueiredo produced breaks of 56 and 67 in the last two frames for an unexpected success.

There were a few more upsets on the second day but nothing that really constituted a major shock.

That said, lowly ranked James Cahill beat fellow Englishman Mark King and, while the result may not have shocked many too much, the 6-0 scoreline might have raised a few eyebrows.

Malta’s Tony Drago recorded his best victory for some time by edging Dominic Dale 6-4 while Fraser Patrick overcame Jamie Burnett in a battle of the Scots.

Elsewhere, all of the higher seeded competitors emerged victorious.

People’s Champion Jimmy White set up a mouth-watering encounter with Ding on Saturday after defeating Dave Harold 6-2.

The 1992 champion compiled breaks of 110 and 63 as he pulled away after the mid-session break.

Steve Davis wasn’t able to follow his fellow legend into the second round, though, and went down by the same score to International Championship victor Ricky Walden.

But a pair of other ex-champions did progress, with John Higgins and Matthew Stevens also advancing with 6-2 wins over Lee Walker and Allan Taylor respectively.

Thursday sees the first round come to a conclusion with defending champion Neil Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen entering the fray.

Reports suggest Champion of Champions O’Sullivan has picked up a foot injury while running so it will be interesting to see how that affects him in his bout with amateur Welshman Daniel Wells.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

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