Maplin Electronics UK Championship 2008: Ding max lights up otherwise dark session for Chinese star

Day four from Telford and the early part of the afternoon session saw the start of the second batch of last 16 matches. Click below to find out what has been going on…

John Higgins 7-1 Ding Junhui

After taking a scrappy opening frame, John began to motor in frame two with a cool 86 break to move 2-0 ahead. What was to come though was a nice a surprise, an outstanding 147 break from Ding, the second of his career to really get him back into the match.

At least that was the plan. What actually happened was Higgins just took off, taking a tight fourth frame for a 3-1 interval lead, before taking a couple of really tight frames to lead 5-1. In frame five he looked to be set to take it in one visit but despite a thumping kick resulting in a missed red, Ding could not take advantage. Similar story in the sixth as Ding looked set to pull one back before underhitting a brown and leaving it hanging in the jaws. Despite Higgins being snookered and managing to follow through with the white when potting the brown, a terrific long pink sealed the frame and from this point Ding appeared to lost heart somewhat and lost the final two frames to finish up 7-1 down.

John did not play near his best really but he won’t be complaining as he needs just two more frames for a quarter-final place. Ding has it all to do and I would be surprised if he can come back from here…

Stephen Maguire 3-5 Neil Robertson

Neil Robertson came out with a 5-3 lead against 2004 UK Champion Stephen Maguire this afternoon after a topsy turvy session of snooker between the two.

Neil has a pretty poor head to head record with Stephen, only beating him once before (albeit on the way to his Bahrain title last month), but he made a great start today to race into a 3-0 lead. Maguire though was getting chances in every frame as Neil’s famed long-potting just wasn’t firing, and made it count by taking the next two frames either side of the interval to close the gap to 3-2, including a well-taken 122 break in frame six.

As they shared the next two it looked like Stephen was going to level it up in frame eight before a poor miss allowed Robertson in to clear the colours and secure a narrow lead going into tonight. Nicely poised…

Shaun Murphy 4-4 Mark Allen

Honours even between Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen in their first session as they shared the eight frames to leave it at 4-4 going into tonight.

It was Mark who made the better start with breaks of 76, 119 and 42 on his way to a 3-1 interval lead. Shaun came out after the break in a determined frame of mind though and took a number of largely close frames to go into a 4-3 lead, before Mark knocked in a second century to level it up.

From the scorelines it would appear that Mark appears to be scoring heavier, though it might just be that Shaun’s experience will see him through. Could be a close one but I have a feeling that it may be Mark’s night. We shall see, hopefully I have not just jinxed him!

Ali Carter 4-4 Peter Ebdon

Ali Carter and Peter Ebdon played out a terrific first session today as they came out level at 4-4.

The standard was great from the off as the players traded big breaks, Carter with 71 and 59 while Peter knocked in 71 and 85 to level each time as they went into the interval at 2-2. The next four frames went much the same way and the match looks to have 9-8 written all over it – but which way?

John Higgins – Ding Junhui 76-42, 86(86)-0, 0-147(147), 87-48
Stephen Maguire – Neil Robertson 40-70(56), 49-66, 3-73(73), 133(122)-5
Shaun Murphy 4-4 Mark Allen 33-76(76), 70-46, 0-119(119), 32-95(42), 82(40)-28, 78(51)-0, 68-55(50), 22-106(100)
Ali Carter – Peter Ebdon 77(71)-1, 0-78(71), 70(59)-35, 7-87(82)