Mark Selby beats Jimmy White

Selby, Higgins and O’Sullivan Cruise into Last 16

It was an easy day at the office for three of the UK Championship’s favourites for its title on Monday in York.

Mark Selby Germany
Selby and O’Sullivan could meet in this year’s final – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

Ronnie O’Sullivan lost his first frame of the tournament but then reeled off another six in a row to record a 6-1 drubbing over Michael Georgiou.

The former¬†champion wasn’t able to add to the five centuries he already accumulated in his previous couple of victories, but breaks of 84, 82, 69 and 67 proved more than enough anyway.

World no.1 Mark Selby similarly advanced with a 6-1 triumph over Robert Milkins, who claimed afterwards that it was the worst he had ever played.

2012 champion Selby is yet to hit top form but is safely manoeuvring his way through the rounds, and will be a heavy favourite in round four against either Zhang Anda or Mitchell Mann.

The world champion could face sterner opposition in the last eight, though, with John Higgins a likely challenger by that stage.

The Scot overcame Ben Woollaston, the player he beat to win the Welsh Open in 2015, with a routine 6-2 scoreline.

Higgins is looking to add to a month full of riches, in which he has emerged triumphant in two lucrative invitational events as well as knocking in an eighth career maximum break.

Meanwhile, the encounter of the sixth day of action was arguably between David Gilbert and Ali Carter.

The latter appeared to be coasting towards a comprehensive success when he led 3-0 only to see his opponent surge back in a high-scoring affair.

A brace of centuries helped Gilbert overturn his deficit into a 5-3 advantage before a 95 and a 116 from Carter forced a dramatic decider.

Again it looked as though Carter was advancing when he boasted a 48 point lead but Gilbert replied with a 55 clearance to nervelessly pinch it on the black.

There was also a thrilling clash between two of China’s up-and-coming stars in Zhou Yuelong and Yan Bingtao.

The pair, only 18 and 16 respectively, is widely regarded as among the best talents in the game at present – highlighted of course by their surprise victory as a team in the World Cup last year.

Their first of what will surely be many matches against each other did not disappoint either, with nine half-centuries compiled between them.

It was Zhou who ultimately got the better of his younger compatriot, making runs of 84 and 53 in fighting back from 5-3 down to record a 6-5 victory.

Elsewhere, Marco Fu managed to hold off another Chinese – Mei Xiwen – denying the 34 year-old a chance at a final frame shoot-out by sealing a 6-4 win on the black.

Luca Brecel continued his resurgence of late with a resounding 6-1 defeat of Yu Delu, while Peter Lines’ entertaining run is over after a 6-2 loss to Liam Highfield.

It’s the turn of Peter’s son Oliver on Tuesday, when the 21 year-old hopes to prolong the family’s involvement in the event when he meets fellow Englishman Jimmy Robertson.

Other tasty ties include Ricky Walden’s clash with Mark Williams and the bout between 147 man Mark Allen and Ryan Day.

Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien, who compiled a record five century breaks in his best of 11 win over Barry Hawkins in the last round, takes on 2004 champion Stephen Maguire.

Click here to view the draw. 

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