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UK Championship: quarter-finals draw, preview, schedule

We have reached the quarter-finals stage of the 2023 UK Championship in York, with four fascinating fixtures on Friday’s schedule.

Five of the remaining eight contenders understand precisely what it takes to go all the way to glory in this Triple Crown tournament.

Four of those, indeed, feature in an eye-catching top half of the draw that boasts a quartet of former world number ones.

On the other side of the draw lies the current top-ranked player Ronnie O’Sullivan, who holds the record for UK Championship triumphs with seven.

The three other protagonists are relative strangers to the business end of an event of this prestige, but nobody should be underestimated from now on.

Ding Junhui vs Mark Williams

Friday, 7pm UTC

Three-time UK champion Ding Junhui takes on two-time winner Mark Williams in a match with more than just a semi-final at stake.

While Williams is guaranteed a return to the Masters in January, Ding’s spot in the lineup is still uncertain.

The Chinese star is provisionally back in the top 16, but a defeat in the last eight could open the door for the chasing duo, Hossein Vafaei and Zhou Yuelong.

The fact that those two are playing earlier in the day during the afternoon session may work in Ding’s favour, as he’ll know what’s expected of him by the time he enters the Barbican floor.

Ding boasts a superior head-to-head record against Williams but lost to the Welshman earlier this term at the British Open – a tournament the latter subsequently won.

Williams, though, somewhat strangely hasn’t reached the last four of a UK Championship since his last appearance in a final back in 2010.

Mark Selby vs Judd Trump

Friday, 7pm UTC

A blockbuster battle between a pair of Englishmen who share 48 ranking titles between them.

Three of those belong to Judd Trump from this season alone, with the 34 year-old attempting to add to the hat-trick of trophies he collected in October.

Selby thrashed Trump 6-1 in the Shanghai Masters a month before that, but there’s no doubting the fact he’s the underdog on this occasion.

Trump has lost just one frame this week so far and is riding a wave of confidence in a similar manner to his dominant period between 2019 and 2021.

If O’Sullivan loses his quarter-final tie earlier in the day, a victory for Trump over Selby would guarantee his return to the world number one ranking.

Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Zhou Yuelong

Friday, 1pm UTC

O’Sullivan has beaten Zhou Yuelong four times from four previous meetings, including twice at the UK Championship.

The fact that both of those results ended 6-0 does not bode particularly well for the young Chinese cueist.

The Rocket, though, has blown hot and cold so far this week and was fortunate to survive a topsy-turvy tussle with Robert Milkins on Thursday.

Zhou will be buoyed by his brace of triumphs over former world champions Neil Robertson and John Higgins.

The 25 year-old, who is the only player remaining who has never won a ranking title, needs to go all the way this week to have any hope of qualifying for the Masters.

Hossein Vafaei vs Zhang Anda

Friday, 1pm UTC

Zhang Anda’s spellbinding season shows no signs of letting up any time soon, and he’s on course to challenge for even more silverware.

The 31 year-old dispatched of world champion Luca Brecel and is going a long way to dispel any suspicions that his International Championship success was a one-off.

Against Hossein Vafaei, he comes up against a talented player who will be hoping to make a major breakthrough of his own.

The Iranian has a 100% winning record against Zhang, but both of those wins came at a time when the latter was down the lower end of the rankings.

As it is, Mighty Mouse is on the cusp of membership among the world’s top ten, and you can hardly say he doesn’t deserve it.

2023 UK Championship draw and results

Last 32 (bo11)

Mark Allen (1) 5-6 Ding Junhui
Tom Ford (16) 6-5 Noppon Saengkham
Mark Williams (9) 6-4 Fan Zhengyi
Kyren Wilson (8) 5-6 Jamie Clarke

Mark Selby (5) 6-0 Mark Joyce
Barry Hawkins (12) 6-4 Ben Woollaston
Jack Lisowski (13) 4-6 Jamie Jones
Judd Trump (4) 6-1 Pang Junxu

Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-2 Anthony McGill
Robert Milkins (14) 6-5 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
John Higgins (11) 6-3 Joe O’Connor
Neil Robertson (6) 2-6 Zhou Yuelong

Shaun Murphy (7) 4-6 Hossein Vafaei
Ali Carter (10) 3-6 Matthew Selt
Zhang Anda (15) 6-5 Elliot Slessor
Luca Brecel (2) 6-4 Yuan Sijun

Last 16 (bo11)

Ding Junhui 6-3 Tom Ford (16)
Mark Williams (9) 6-4 Jamie Clarke
Mark Selby (5) 6-5 Barry Hawkins (12)
Jamie Jones 0-6 Judd Trump (4)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-5 Robert Milkins (14)
John Higgins (11) 3-6 Zhou Yuelong
Hossein Vafaei 6-1 Matthew Selt
Zhang Anda (15) 6-4 Luca Brecel (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo11)

Ding Junhui 6-5 Mark Williams (9)
Mark Selby (5) 3-6 Judd Trump (4)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-5 Zhou Yuelong
Hossein Vafaei 6-4 Zhang Anda (15)

Semi-Finals (bo11)

Ding Junhui 6-4 Judd Trump (4)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (3) 6-2 Hossein Vafaei

Final (bo19)

Ding Junhui 7-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (3)

Featured photo credit: WST

One Comment

  1. Please please let the final be Judd v O’Sullivan 🙏

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