Race to the Masters
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Chasing Pack Maintains Pressure in Race to the Masters

They are chasing one of the last available spots in this season’s prestigious invitational.

The Race to the Masters is heating up with several players jostling for the final positions as the UK Championship third round got under way on Monday.

Anthony McGill, Barry Hawkins, Graeme Dott, and Zhou Yuelong all triumphed to heap more pressure on the top 16 competitors who will be invited to the Alexandra Palace in January.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Jack Lisowksi are the vulnerable contenders, currently holding onto the 15th and 16th places on the provisional list respectively.

The Thai has already crashed out of the UK Championship but boasts an £8,250 buffer over Lisowski, who in turn is coveting the final position by only a narrow margin.

World Championship semi-finalist McGill narrowed the gap with a 6-1 victory over Chen Zifan and now stands just £2,250 back from Lisowski – albeit the latter is still to play his third-round fixture.

McGill’s countryman Graeme Dott is also through to the last 32 of the UK Championship after a 6-2 victory over Stuart Bingham.

In what was a battle between the 2006 and 2015 world champions, Dott raced into a 4-0 lead with the aid of back-to-back century breaks in the opening frames.

Bingham then won two frames after the interval to halve the deficit, but Dott crucially pinched the seventh frame on the colours with a break of 67 before completing the triumph in the next frame.

Currently in 22nd place on the provisional standings, Dott needs at least a run to the semi-finals this week at the Marshall Arena – a round he has only once before contested in the UK Championship.

Meanwhile, Hawkins overcame Robert Milkins and China’s Zhou edged countryman Chang Bingyu in a decider to prolong both their aspirations in the Race to the Masters.

Elsewhere, Former UK champions Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, and John Higgins all enjoyed success at the Marshall Arena.

Trump, already a winner of two ranking events this term, thumped Liang Wenbo 6-1, while Robertson and Higgins earned respective 6-2 triumphs over Li Hang and Jak Jones.

Xiao Guodong was the day’s other winner, the 31 year-old recording a 6-3 defeat of David Grace to progress further in the competition as well.

The third round continues on Tuesday with Mark Selby in action against Hossein Vafaei and Stephen Maguire facing rookie Pang Junxu.

Live coverage of the 2020 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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