UK Championship 2010: Hendry through, O’Sullivan out!

Day three from Telford and what a dramatic day it has been as despite playing poorly for much of the match, Stephen Hendry rallied to take the last two frames to defeat Jimmy White, while Stuart Bingham shocked recent Premier League champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, completing a 9-6 victory…

Monday 6th December


Marco Fu 9-7 Barry Hawkins*
Ali Carter 6-9 Mark Joyce*
Stephen Hendry 9-8 Jimmy White*
Mark Williams 9-3 Mark Davis*

Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-9 Stuart Bingham*
Jamie Cope 6-9 Judd Trump*
Shaun Murphy 9-5 Patrick Wallace*
Mark King 8-9 Ryan Day*


John Higgins 4-4 Graeme Dott
Neil Robertson 7-1 Andrew Higginson
Ding Junhui 2-6 Mark Allen
Stephen Maguire v Mark Selby

Having both struggled for form during a frankly diabolical first session yesterday, Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White by all accounts did not improve a great deal today, although following from the livescores at least it did look as though Jimmy was just beginning to get the upper hand at the right time as he moved 8-7 ahead with breaks of 68 and 61.

Just as against Zhang Anda at this year’s World Championship however, Stephen with his back up against the wall somehow was able to find his best form and not only level the match, but then pounce on a poor break off from Jimmy to make a match-winning break of 73.

It was far from the greatest standard these two have ever produced but in terms of drama and tension it was right up there and unfortunately for Jimmy, had the same result as was so often the case in the 90’s, another win for Hendry. For Stephen though a win is a win and ensures that he will remain a member of the elite top 16 for a while longer yet. He will have to play far better against good friend Mark Williams in the next round though if he is to stand any chance of progressing further.

While the Hendry result was not necessarily a surprise however, Stuart Bingham’s 9-6 victory over four-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan certainly was. Ballrun as he is affectionately known in snooker circles could have considered himself unlucky to not emerge from yesterday’s first session with at least a 5-3 lead and as he slipped 6-4 behind today, could have been forgiven for thinking that it might not be his day.

Not a bit of it however as Stuart  hit back to level at 6-6 before taking the next three frames with a series of 40+ breaks as O’Sullivan let his frustration get the better of him. He might have been able to cruise to the Premier League title but as he himself said following that victory, this is a different ball game and so it proved tonight. Not only is Ronnie now out of the tournament but by my reckoning he is also out of the top 8 of the world rankings now for the first time since the 1994/5 season.

But take nothing away from Bingham. Having famously defeated Stephen Hendry at the Crucible before and qualified for the Masters tournament on two separate occasions, Stuart’s talent has never been in doubt but for whatever reason he has not been able to convert that into consistent performances at the ranking events, four quarter-finals his best results to date. Will this result prove to be a one-off or will he be another to benefit from the increased match-practice afforded to him by the Players Tour Championship and be able to break new ground?

Another man certainly falling into this category is Mark Joyce, a player not so well known to the general public at large but a man who proved his talent today by dispatching an out of sorts Ali Carter 9-6. For whatever reason Ali did not play well in either session but the result is surely the best of Mark’s career and one for a player who having previously fallen outside of the top 64 at the last rankings revision, was facing the possibility of losing his place on the tour.

A strong junior though, Mark has shown flashes of his talent during his professional career, reaching the final of the Masters qualifier a couple of years ago, but by and large he has struggled to assert himself on the tour. Now up to 49th in my projected seedings list however, perhaps the best could be yet to come.

Elsewhere in the afternoon session, Ryan Day continued his gradual return to form with a confidence boosting 9-8 victory against Mark King, while Judd Trump, Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy all came through relatively comfortably.

In the evening matches meanwhile, those which marked the start of the last 16, defending champion Ding Junhui found it tough going against Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen, falling 6-2 down overnight on one of the outside tables.

No such problem for Neil Robertson however, a 9-1 winner in his first match, he now leads Andrew Higginson 7-1 overnight as he continues his blistering form in Telford this week. After seven frames Andrew had potted just twelve balls, but thankfully did manage to avoid the whitewash with a century break in the last frame of the session.

Elsewhere, Scottish world champions John Higgins and Graeme Dott finished all-square at 4-4 while Stephen Maguire currently leads Mark Selby 4-2.