UK Championship 2010: Higgins and Allen book semi date

John Higgins and Mark Allen were the favourites heading into their matches today and both managed to deliver, but not without a fight as Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham gave as good as they got…


John Higgins 9-7 Stephen Maguire
Mark Allen 9-7 Stuart Bingham

John Higgins has continued his excellent return to the professional circuit by reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship this evening with a 9-7 win over practice partner Stephen Maguire.

It was far from a routine victory however as Maguire, fresh on the back of a strong victory himself against Mark Selby in the previous round was able to take the first three frames tonight to lead 6-5. At that stage Stephen was very much the dominant player and with just further frame to be played prior to the mid-session interval, looked favourite to take it.

As I posted on my Twitter account at the time however, you can never write John Higgins off and he duly came to the table and knocked in a terrific break to level the match at 6-6 and from there he never really looked back, taking the next three frames to restore his two-frame lead before completing victory in frame 17.

Another good result for John, he keeps his hopes of both returning to top spot in the rankings and also of taking another UK title very much alive. Stephen will be disappointed to lose, particularly given the way he started this evening’s session, but for me it has at least been a positive event for him and probably his best for some time.

Next up for John will be Mark Allen who came through against conqueror of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stuart Ballrun Bingham this evening. Again their match was tight throughout and certainly at one stage it looked to be Stuart who was in the ascendency, particularly as he knocked in a stunning break of 142 to level the match at 6-6 heading into the interval.

At 7-7 however it was Bingham who just began to falter and despite having a real chance to steal the frame to go just one away from the match, could not take it.

Mark got off to a slow start this season but over the last few weeks he has begun to gather some momentum during the PTC events and now through to his first UK semi-final is closing in on that elusive first ranking event title, which it is surely only a matter of time before he wins.

As for Stuart, that first ranking event semi-final was not to be, falling again at the quarter-final stage but on the brink of a place inside the top 16 and with very little to defend from 2008/9 between now and the Crucible, he can be very pleased with his work here in Telford this week.