Andy Hicks is through to the last eight of the 2021 UK Championship after another dramatic 6-5 victory at the Barbican Centre in York.
The Cream of Devon had already accounted for Liang Wenbo, Michael Holt, and Dominic Dale in deciding-frame finishes during this tournament, and he needed a fourth final frame on the bounce to see off the highly fancied David Gilbert.
There was never more than a frame between the pair throughout a tight affair, but Hicks generally scored the heavier and a break of 56 in the eleventh frame helped see him advance.
A player who first turned professional in 1991, it’s 26 years since Hicks last featured at the quarter-final stage of a UK Championship, and he’ll be looking to match his run to the 1995 semi-finals when he takes on Barry Hawkins in the next round.
“I’d like to say I’m starting to lose my hair, but I’ve done that many years ago,” 48 year-old Andy Hicks said in his post-match interview with the World Snooker Tour.
“It’s nice to win another 6-5 of course, but I felt in all the matches that I probably should have won easier. I made it difficult for myself.”
“But I’m pleased with the way I’ve held out to win the deciders to give myself a chance in all of them, and I took them so that was the big thing. My main aim has been to not do anything silly or rash and to take my time.”
Hick is making the most of his opportunity this season after only just surviving the cut at the conclusion of the last campaign, when he was one defeat away from losing his tour card.
“That was a bonus. Beating Reanne (in the World Championship qualifiers), I knew I was close to being on the top eight of the one-year list.”
“It was touch and go, but I managed to finish sixth. That’s taken the pressure off really, because you get a two-year tour card again.
“Just to have another two years on the tour, I thought that’s great, because if I hadn’t have got back on the tour I definitely would have retired.
“So I thought I’ve got two years on the tour and that will take me until I’m 50 years old, and then we’ll see what happens from there. Here I am now still punching in the quarter-finals.
“It was my mindset that if I could just have one really good run in a tournament I’d be really pleased, and if I had a chance of winning it then even better.”
Hawkins, meanwhile, fought back from 3-1 behind to win five frames on the spin and deny Matthew Selt a berth in last eight of the draw.
Elsewhere in the bottom half of the draw, Jack Lisowski set up an intriguing tie against Zhao Xintong after emerging as the victor against Hossein Vafaei despite producing a sloppy performance.
Luca Brecel was the other player to progress, with the Belgian Bullet comfortably easing past the challenge of Anthony Hamilton with a 6-1 triumph.
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Featured photo credit: WST
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The Hicks story is captivating. He was a big talent when I was a kid so to see him reach a quarter-final of this magnitude is wonderfully nostalgic. His matchplay in the closing frames was vastly superior to an increasingly frustrated Gilbert.