UK Championship 2009: Day One Observations

So the action is underway and so far it has been a good afternoon for the seeds as they all look like securing commanding leads following the opening session. Due to time constraints I will not be writing up full match reports for the matches this week, instead choosing to dip in and out of matches and comment on the days as they progress. Click below for day one…

First up on the TV tables today are the defending champion and the world number two as Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire take on Gerard Greene and Michael Holt respectively.

On the back of his Premier League triumph last week Shaun is back in Telford to defend another of the titles that he currently holds, the UK Championship. He did not start his match against Gerard Greene particularly well but as has been the case in the past, Gerard could not take full advantage of the chances that he was given and Shaun moved into a 2-0 lead. To his credit though a couple of half-centuries were enough to bring him level at the mid-session interval.

Shaun though came out and responded with the first century of the match before adding runs of 61, 48 and 49 to surge away to 5-2. Gerard did take the last of the session in one-visit with a tidy 96 to keep himself in the match, but Shaun will be a heavy favourite going into tonight’s concluding session.

Stephen Maguire meanwhile looks to be playing well, moving into a three frame lead before Holt took the fourth get his side of the scoreboard going. Like Gerard across the curtain however he was struggling to take his chances and at 4-1 down looked to be in danger of being cut adrift. Fair play to him though as he has kept on fighting and at the time of writing finds himself just one behind at 4-3. Big last frame of the session now…

The non-televised matches have also gone the way of the seeds so far, Mark Williams putting on a show to lead 2006 world semi-finalist Graeme Dott 6-2 at the end of the session while ‘Mr Last 16’ Mark King led Anthony Hamilton 4-0, though the latter has reduced his arrears to 4-2 now.

Over on the other side now are Mark Selby and Jamie Cope as they begin what is on paper is one of the hardest matches of the round to call. Really think that this is as close to a 50-50 as you will find…

Holt takes the last against Maguire and at 4-4 all is to play for this evening. He will be delighted with that from 4-1 down. Liang Wenbo v Ryan Day will now follow on this table, while Neil Robertson and Tom Ford are now underway off camera, Neil taking the first frame to lead 1-0.

Good crowds so far in Telford, watching Shaun Murphy in particular.

Like in Glasgow, Mark Selby looks rusty early on. Good thing for him is that in a best of 17 he has longer to get going I guess and thanks in part to a very poor missed brown from Jamie, still looks like leading 2-0. Day/Liang are now underway while Robertson moves 2-0 up on Tom Ford.

Re-rack in frame three of the Selby/Cope match. Must say I quite like the black/orange/grey set this year, it’s a nice change from the usual blue.

Mark King finishes up with a 6-2 lead over Anthony Hamilton, not a decisive one but he is now very nicely set to progress to the last 16 of a ranking event for the sixth time out of the last seven staged.

Jamie Cope steals a crucial third frame, potentially big one now before they head off to the mid-session interval. Liang Wenbo meanwhile has taken the first two against Welshman Ryan Day while Neil Robertson leads 3-1.

A lot of players seem to be sponsored by CAIGAMES.COM this week incidentally…

Selby and Cope 2-2 at the interval. Not the best standard so far…but a very, very good break of 42 puts him ahead in the match for the first time. Hopefully that will be the spark that the match needs. Ryan Day though is in danger of being out of the match after the first session against Liang Wenbo. 4-1 down and 45-0 in frame six…

Fantastic start for Stuart Bingham against Joe Perry, leading 3-0 at the moment. Bit of a role reversal from the first matches of the day as three of the four matches are being led by the qualifier.

Our first result is in and quicker than we thought, Graeme Dott has had to withdraw at 6-2 down to Mark Williams. Apparently he is suffering from dizzy spells, a shame for him as I had fancied him to do quite well. Still, just what Mark needed and he now awaits the winner of Marco Fu and Peter Lines who play on Monday. The result sends Mark rocketing up to eight place in the provisional rankings, though of course with the rest of the first round matches completed, this is a slightly false position!

Liang Wenbo takes a 6-2 lead over Ryan Day into tomorrow’s match, it’s going to be very hard for Ryan to turn that around.

Good response from Mark Selby who is poised to level up his match with Cope at 4-4 going into tomorrow. Maguire and Holt are back on across the curtain.

Bingham finishes the session 6-2 up in Joe Perry, a terrific position to be in heading into tomorrow.

Stephen Maguire meanwhile has capitalised on a couple of errors and a piece of bad luck from the Hitman and now leads by two frames once again…big job for Michael now, needs at least one frame before the mid-session interval. 7-4 now…Maguire with a chance for 8-4 but it has not worked out and he has punched the table in frustration. Holt has to take the frame now to keep his hopes alive. And does, well done to him because that was a nicely taken chance.

Mark King edges closer to the line now, 7-2 up…and now he has completed an excellent 9-2 win, well done Mark. He looks like coming up against Liang Wenbo next, unless Ryan Day can turn that match around tomorrow.

Holt loses a frame that he looked for all the world like taking. Great safety shot from Stephen to force the error though and at 8-5 up, I cannot see him losing from here. Shaun Murphy meanwhile leads 7-4, though Greene looks like he is about to pull one back…

Well done to Shaun Murphy, back out from the interval and two straight breaks of 88 see him move into the last 16 in no time. He will need to improve but he is still in the tournament and that is all that counts…

Maguire meanwhile leads 8-6 but is having trouble getting over the line…

And what a thriller frame 15 was, going all the way to the final black but it is Maguire who takes it and ends a brave challenge from the Hitman. I like both but I am pleased for Stephen after the tough week that he has had, it can’t have been easy out there today.