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Photos by Monique Limbos
Today we found out who would be making up the last four players in the final 16 of the williamhill.com UK Championship at the Barbican Centre, York. First through in the afternoon was Masters champion Neil Robertson who took on Tom Ford who himself made a 147 in the qualifiers for this event.
From the get go it didn't look promising for Ford as throughout the match he was regulary forced off the table. Robertson took the first with a classy 129, followed by breaks of 112, 74 and 100 on the way to taking a 5-0 lead. He had a chance to whitewash his opponent but the Australian missed a simple red which kept Ford's hopes alives but in the next frame another ton, this time a 127 gave Robertson a comfortable 6-1 win.
Based on that form it is easy to see that the 2010 World Champion has been put as the favourite for the tournament due to the early exit of defending champion Judd Trump. The other match was also a one-sided affair as after an notably-ill looking Dominic Dale won the first frame it was all one-way traffic for Matthew Stevens who made a top run of 71 on the way to a 6-1 victory over his fellow Welshman.
In the evening we saw another player from Wales, two-times World Champion Mark Williams, take on Mark King who qualified for this event in style, beating Xiao Guodong 6-0. First frame went the way of Williams before King hit back to win the next three frames with a top run of 57. The Essex pro won the next two including a magnificant 103 to go 5-1 in front. Williams fought back to 5-3 which included a 105 but it was too late as world no.32 King won the safety battle to win and shock Williams 6-3.
His opponent in the next round will be no other than the man (or should I say boy?) who knocked him out in April to qualify for the Crucible, 17-year-old Luca Brecel. The Belgian had a much lower pot and safety success rate than Wuxi Classic champion Ricky Walden but when it mattered he managed to sneak the frames that counted. From 2-2, Walden made runs of 64 and 94 to regain his lead at 4-2, before Brecel hit back to 4-4 with two close frames.
The next two were shared to bring the match to a decider. As often happens in this situation the balls went in awkward places but when it mattered world no.74 Brecel made a break of 36 which ultimately was enough to see him through, 6-5, to the joy of his mum in the audience. Brecel summed up the best victory of his career so far: "It's unbelievable to win. It wasn't my best game but I won so I'm very pleased. It's the biggest win of my career so far and a very big moment for me - I still can't believe it."
Here is the schedule for the last 16 of the williamhill.com UK championship -
Tuesday 4 December
Mark Joyce (Eng) v Ali Carter (Eng)
Matthew Stevens (Wal) v Marco Fu (HK)
Stuart Bingham (Eng) v Stephen Maguire (Sco)
Graeme Dott (Sco) v Shaun Murphy (Eng)
Wednesday 5 December
Ryan Day (Wal) v Mark Selby (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) v Luca Brecel (Bel)
John Higgins (Sco) v M Davis (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Barry Hawkins (Eng)