Maplin Electronics UK Championship 2008: Classy Higgins holds off Ding revival

Day four from Telford as the last 16 matches come to a close. Click below to find out what has been going on…

John Higgins 9-4 Ding Junhui

John Higgins booked his place in the quarter-finals tonight by taking the two frames that he needed against Ding Junhui after his dominant first session.

To his credit though, Ding came out fighting tonight in a situation where some might have expected him to give up at 7-1 down. Instead he made breaks of 83, 43 and 67 to close the gap to 7-4 and give Higgins something of a fright as the interval approached.

As is often the case though, John did not let this faze him and responded with a cool break of 91 in frame 12 to put an end to Ding’s run, before wrapping up the win with a 60 after the break. He’ll need to play better if he wants to win the tournament, but he is more than capable as he showed at the Grand Prix.

Shaun Murphy 9-7 Mark Allen

Shaun Murphy backed up his first win of the season yesterday with another one tonight against the world number 16 Mark Allen.

It was Allen who had the better of this morning’s session with two centuries but Shaun did well to hang in there and tonight it was his time to shine against the man from Antrim. Breaks of 89 and 115 in the first two frames gave him a two frame cushion and from there Allen never really got back at him, pushing Shaun to 8-7 before he sealed the win in the next frame.

Good stuff for Shaun after his terrible run this season before now and it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up on Thursday against the man who beat him in the final of the 2006 Welsh Open, Stephen Lee.

Disappointing result for Mark Allen but winning his first match at least ensured that he will remain well inside the top 16 provisionally.

Ali Carter 9-5 Peter Ebdon

Ali Carter moved quietly into the quarter-finals today with a surprisingly comfortably 9-5 win over 2006 winner Peter Ebdon.

Resuming at 4-4 after a high quality first session, Ali took command from the start and barring a 93 break late on as Peter sought to reduce his arrears, Ali quickly finished off the match avoid falling victim to a trademark Ebdon comeback as Andrew Higginson before him had.

Up against Mark Williams tomorrow Ali will face a real test against a top class player who is finally showing signs of returning to his old form.

Stephen Maguire 9-8 Neil Robertson

Stephen Maguire became the last man to reach the quarter-finals with a dramatic 9-8 win over Neil Robertson in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

With two such positive players in action you could be forgiven for expecting a high quality encounter but it was in fact a scrappy old encounter, though intriguing all the same. At 5-3 down Stephen could be forgiven for thinking that he was harshly done by earlier, particularly as he was ahead of Neil in almost every statistic but the score. Tonight he set about putting that right and came out of the blocks quickly with 94 and 65 to level it at 5-5, though from this point the heavy scoring came to an abrupt end as in the remaining frames degenerated into a series of turgid affairs.

It looked for a while like the 12th frame might be crucial, Robertson stealing it to lead 7-5, but Maguire hung in there and frames 16-18 took over an hour and a half to complete as Maguire dramatically brought it back to 8-8 as the clock struck midnight.

In the deciding frame though back came the quality as Stephen Maguire produced a quite sensational century break to clinch the match, potting several difficult shots, particularly under the immense pressure he must have been under after a match that lasted over six hours. The frame ball plant from near the left middle pocket to in particular was probably the shot of the week given the circumstances, top shot as Stephen, who had never actually been in front up until this point, sealed the match with a clearance to the pink.

An incredibly hard-earned win, Stephen at least gets a day off now before meeting compatriot John Higgins on Thursday. Not that he will care too much right now but he will make inroads into Ronnie O’Sullivan’s lead at the top of the rankings now and hopefully that will make things more interesting at the top of the rankings as the season draws to a close…


John Higgins 9-4 Ding Junhui 76(45)-42, 86(86)-0, 0-147(147), 87-48, 75-61, 51-41, 68(40)-27, 100(64)-25, 0-102(83), 0-110(43,67), 29-90, 91(91)-0, 73(60)-47(42)
Stephen Maguire 8-8 Neil Robertson 40-70(56), 49-66(39), 3-73(73), 76(59)-4, 133(122)-5, 12-91(73), 85(85)-17, 62-70(38), 115(94)-3, 65(65)-9, 8-72, 86(46)-0, 63-8, 36-64, 52-48, 113(104)-9
Shaun Murphy 9-7 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), 90(89)-0, 115(115)-0, 68-49, 8-73(62), 29-92(52), 71-70, 0-97, 76-4
Ali Carter 9-5 Peter Ebdon 77(71)-1, 0-78(71), 70(59)-35, 7-87(82), 61(54)-70(70), 96(96)-0, 1-103(103), 69-68(68), 81(57)-34, 74(58)-49, 1-93(93), 90-40, 78(78)-2