Mark Allen says he’s quietly confident of reaching a third UK Championship final after beating Kyren Wilson on Wednesday in York.
The Northern Irishman has been one of the form players of the 2022/23 snooker season so far and is the third-highest seed left in the draw.
The Pistol reached the final of the British Open at the start of October and three weeks later successfully defended his Northern Ireland Open crown on home turf in Belfast.
Allen, who reached the UK Championship final in 2011 and 2018, reached this year’s quarter-finals with a 6-3 victory over Wilson.
Like in his first encounter of the week against Jordan Brown, Allen trailed 2-0 early on but fought back strongly with six half-century contributions.
“I played some good stuff from 2-0,” world number nine Mark Allen told the World Snooker Tour.
“I had a very slow start again, missed a few shots. I played some poor shots in those first two frames.”
“I sort of gifted it to Kyren a little bit, and he’s such a good player that you know he’s not going to let you off the hook, so I needed to snap into form soon.
“I made two good breaks to go 2-1 and then another good break to go 2-2, and I felt really relaxed then at the interval.
“I felt like I’d broke the back of the match, because he probably felt he had me on the ropes at 2-0 and could have pushed on to 3-1 or 4-0.
“I didn’t let that happen in the end, and after the interval I played a lot of good stuff.
“I potted a few long ones, safety was good, and I didn’t miss too many in the balls – it’s a good combo.
“I actually really like coming here, so I’m surprised I haven’t been in the quarters a bit more often than that (sixth appearance).
“It’s just tough, isn’t it? I think one of those defeats might have been behind closed doors, which I wasn’t a fan of.
“I think I lost to Gilbert last year when I was 5-2 up, it’s probably a match I should have won, but it’s just hard.
“You get one chance every year in these major tournaments. A sixth quarter-final is probably not the best return, but two finals is what I take out of it.
- CLICK HERE: Mark Allen wins Northern Ireland Open again
“It would be nice to get to a third this week, but I’m not getting carried away.
“There are still two very tough matches ahead of me to get to that Sunday match, but I’m quietly confident.
“I’ve never been one that looks at draws too much or who worries about other players. You can only beat who’s in front of you.
“More often than not, the people that are left in this tournament are the ones who deserve to be in this tournament.
“Sam Craigie next is someone who’s a little further down the rankings, but he thoroughly deserves to be here.
“He’s had two cracking wins and two cracking performances, so I’d probably rather play a top-eight player given what they showed earlier on in the week.
“I’m not too bothered about seedings and draws opening up. You have to just worry about your own performance and try and go out there and play well.”
Craigie, meanwhile, reached the last eight of a ranking event for only the third time in his career with an impressive 6-4 victory over Ryan Day.
The 28 year-old from Newcastle backed up his defeat of reigning champion Zhao Xintong with another strong display in which he compiled a hat-trick of century breaks.
On the other side of the draw, tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan continued his bid for a record eighth UK title with an easy 6-0 win against a hapless Zhou Yuelong.
O’Sullivan may be causing controversy – again – with his derogatory comments of the sport off the table, but on it his progress has been serene.
Tom Ford also reached the quarter-finals after overcoming last year’s runner-up Luca Brecel in a mostly cagey affair.
On Thursday, the remaining second-round fixtures are scheduled to take place with Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy the pick of the bunch.
Draw and Schedule
Sam Craigie 6-4 Ryan Day (16)
Mark Allen (9) 6-3 Kyren Wilson (8)
Hossein Vafaei vs Jack Lisowski (12)
(Thursday 17th, 7pm)
Shaun Murphy (13) vs Judd Trump (4)
(Thursday 17th, 1pm)
Joe Perry vs Stuart Bingham (14)
(Thursday 17th, 7pm)
Luca Brecel (11) 3-6 Tom Ford
Jamie Clarke vs Ding Junhui
(Thursday 17th, 1pm)
Zhou Yuelong 0-6 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)
The quarter-finals are on the 18th, the semi-finals take place on the 19th, and the final is on Sunday, November 20th.
Where to Watch the UK Championship
The full 2022 UK Championship schedule will be available to watch on Eurosport and discovery+ across Europe, with viewers in the UK and Ireland also able to enjoy coverage from the BBC.
Other options are available around the world, with more information on those global networks available over on the World Snooker Tour website.
Featured photo credit: WST