Ding Vafaei
Main News, Ranking

Four UK Championship Seeds Crash Out

It was a mixed day for the marquee players as the action resumed at the Marshall Arena.

Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, and John Higgins are all through to the third round of the UK Championship – but a quarter of the top 16 exited at the second hurdle in Milton Keynes on Saturday.

The highest profile of those was defending champion Ding Junhui, who squandered a 5-3 lead in a deciding-frame defeat to David Grace.

Ding labelled the tables “unplayable” as he bemoaned the conditions following the scrappy contest with the recent Northern Ireland Open semi-finalist.

The Chinese number one had numerous chances in the last three frames to get over the winning line, but the underdog capitalised to continue his solid recent form.

Two-time former runner-up Mark Allen was similarly an unexpected loser as the Northern Irishman lost the last two frames in a 6-5 reverse against Chang Bingyu.

Allen was among the favourites this year having secured the prestigious Champion of Champions title earlier in November, but the 34 year-old was unable to reproduce his usual scoring prowess.

David Gilbert and Yan Bingtao were the other two seeds who failed to reach the next stage.

The latter was involved in yet another tie that lasted the distance, fighting back from 5-2 behind against fellow Chinese competitor Chen Zifan before being denied the comeback win in the final frame, while Gilbert’s poor run of form was prolonged by a 6-4 loss to Robert Milkins.

Meanwhile, former champions Trump, Robertson, and Higgins had fewer issues with their second-round fixtures.

World number one Trump compiled a 750th career century break in a 6-3 victory over Dominic Dale, a scoreline matched by Higgins in the Scot’s ousting of Gerard Greene.

Robertson earlier produced one of the performances of the day, scoring a hat-trick of tons and four more breaks above 50 in a 6-1 hiding of Chris Wakelin.

The trio was joined in the last 32 by 2004 winner and last year’s runner-up Stephen Maguire, who overcame Stuart Carrington 6-4.

Elsewhere, Barry Hawkins maintained his slim hopes of breaking into the top 16 of the world rankings in time to gain an invitation to the Masters with a 6-1 thrashing of Robbie Williams.

Hawkins, who has dropped to number 22 on the provisional list, needs a run to the latter stages of the competition to give himself any chance of featuring in London in January.

Among the others to make it through were Anthony McGill, who edged Lyu Haotian in another 6-5 thriller, and Hossein Vafaei, who outplayed Michael Holt.

Jimmy White’s brief run was comprehensively ended by Zhou Yuelong, while Li Hang and Xiao Guodong also advanced.

The second round concludes on Sunday with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, and Mark Williams among those back in action.

Live coverage of the UK Championship is on the BBC, Eurosport, and via various other global services.

Click here to view the draw

Featured photo credit: WST

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