By Nigel Slater
NEIL Robertson sent a huge signal of intent as far as his UK Championship title hopes were concerned after a superb performance saw him beat Tom Ford 6-1.
The 2010 World Championship winner was in majestic form hitting four century breaks as he stormed into the last 16 against the Leicester based potter.
Robertson got off to a brilliant start as he delighted the Barbican Centre crowd with the tournament’s second highest break of 129 in the opening frame.
The second frame was a much tighter affair but Ford missed a crucial final brown as Robertson went onto to take a 2-0 lead. Breaks of 112 and 74 then followed as the Australian sailed into a 4-0 lead at the mid-session interval with a 97 per cent pot success rate.
Robertson continued where he left off after the resumption with a break of 100 but Ford managed to get on the board in frame six to avoid the embarrassment of a whitewash defeat.
The Thunder from Down Under then clinched a second round tie against Barry Hawkins in style hitting a classy fourth century break of the afternoon – this time a 127.
With star names such as Judd Trump, Mark Allen and Ding Junhui exiting the tournament already, this could prove to be Robertson’s year and if he continues this form then not many will be able to stop him.
The afternoon’s other match saw Matthew Stevens, a former winner of this title back in 2003, beat fellow Welshman Dominic Dale 6-1 to reach the last 16 stage. Next up for Stevens is Marco Fu.
Two-times world champion Mark Williams suffered a 6-3 defeat to Mark King who was in impressive form throughout winning five of the opening six frames. The Welshman threatened a comeback but it was King who secured victory winning a scrappy ninth frame.
King’s next opponent will be 17-year-old Belgian sensation Luca Brecel who completed the biggest win of his career beating Ricky Walden 6-5 after coming back from behind three times.
Brecel recovered from 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4 deficits to pull off a superb win after winning a nervy final frame shoot-out as Walden was left to rue the missed chances he had earlier to close the game out.
UK Championship 2012 – Second Round Draw
Mark JOYCE vs Ali CARTER
Stuart BINGHAM vs Stephen MAGUIRE
Mark KING vs Luca BRECEL
Graeme DOTT vs Shaun MURPHY
John HIGGINS vs Mark DAVIS
Matthew STEVENS vs Marco FU
Neil ROBERTSON vs Barry HAWKINS
Ryan DAY vs Mark SELBY
Tuesday sees Mark Joyce looking to cause another upset when he takes on Ali Carter, Matthew Stevens meets Marco Fu and in the evening session Stuart Bingham plays Stephen Maguire while former world champions Graeme Dott and Shaun Murphy battle it out for a place in the quarter finals.