By Nigel Slater
RYAN Day repeated his World Championship success over Ding Junhui to knock him out of the UK Championship on the tournament’s opening day.
It was a case of deja-vu for the Welshman as Day beat the Chinese star 6-4 in a topsy-turvy encounter just as he did back in April when he won a thrilling first round encounter at the Crucible.
But in the early stages of the match Ding, who won the UK Championship in 2005 and 2009 appeared to be set for the first round win when he took the opening two frames to take a 2-0 lead with breaks of 59 and 106.
Ding had a great opportunity to extend his lead to 3-0 but messed up by snookering himself on the yellow which allowed Day to return and reduce his deficit to 2-1. The Welshman then went into the mid-session interval level at 2-2 after hitting a break of 90.
After the restart Day continued where he left off and won a scrappy fifth frame to take the lead for the first time in the match.
But Ding soon fought back and levelled the match at 3-3 with a break of 91 before he turned the match on its head again taking a 4-3 lead.
There was another twist however as Day hit a century break to level the match once again before he took the honours in frame nine to be on the verge of another surprising win. And Day’s win was complete as a speedy break of 88 ended Ding’s chances of a lifting a third UK Championship title, for this year at least.
Elsewhere, Mark Selby and John Higgins were both made to work hard for a place in the second round with 6-3 victories over Michael White and Michael Holt respectively.
Former world champion Graeme Dott battled back from a precarious position of 5-3 down to beat Martin Gould in a deciding frame thriller to reach the second round.
Scotland’s Stephen Maguire hit three centuries as he cruised to the last 16 with a 6-2 win of Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien. The 2004 UK Championship hit breaks of and 102, 104 and 131 – currently the tournament’s highest break.
And Barry Hawkins continued his impressive season on the baize with a 6-4 win over China’s Liang Wenbo. This season’s Australian Open winner had to dig deep though in the latter stages as Wenbo took a 4-3 lead after being 3-1 behind.
But three frames on the bounce for Hawkins saw him reach the second round of this competition for the first time since 2007.
Tomorrow (Sunday) sees the new Premier League champion Stuart Bingham in action when he takes on Essex’s Jack Lisowski, six times world champion Steve Davis plays Ali Carter and last year’s UK Championship winner Judd Trump starts the defence of his trophy against Mark Joyce.
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