Higgins won the UK title in 1998, 2000 and 2010
Three-time UK Champion John Higgins breezed past amateur Leo Fernandez 6-1 in the opening round of the Betway UK Championship in York (Josh Robinson writes).
The Scot has been in imperious form of late, having already racked up three ranking titles this calendar year. He’s now in the hunt for his 29th career ranking title and a triumph here at the Barbican would take him past the tally of Steve Davis.
World number seven Higgins was impressive throughout against amateur Fernandez. He knocked in breaks of 69, 129, 50 and 77 on his way to booking his place in the last 64, where he will face either Tian Pengfei or Ian Burns on Saturday.
Higgins said: “Leo didn’t play well at all. It was obviously going to be very difficult. He has been away from the main arena for a few years and it probably took him too long to settle down.
“I am coming here and I have got a bit of confidence behind me after winning a couple tournaments this season so I would love do well here. I have not really done well in York in the past.”
Reflecting on his upturn in form, Higgins added: “I have just altered my set up a little bit. I was out in China, before the World Cup at the start of the year, and I was doing a couple of lessons with some young Chinese players.
“I was telling them how to stand and then I realised I don’t stand like that myself. So I went back out into the practice room and I tried to copy what I was telling other people. It seems to be working so far.”
Ken Doherty whitewashed Tony Drago 6-0 with a fine performance, highlighted by breaks of 84, 61, 132 and 119. Doherty’s professional head-to-head record with the Maltese man now stands at eight wins from eleven matches.
The 1997 World Champion said: “Tony’s a good mate of mine, it’s not very nice to treat one of your friends like that but I suppose when you get on the table, there are no friends – you’ve just got to try and get down to business. I like it up here – it’s a great venue and a great city.”
He will now face Mark Davis in the next round after the Hastings cueman saw off Rhys Clark 6-1 win with top runs of 53, 54 and 68.
Leeds potter David Grace enjoyed a fine 6-1 win over Andrew Higginson, including a break of 100 in the fourth frame.
Martin Gould saw off Allan Taylor 6-2 with a top run of 108 while Stuart Carrington saw off Liam Highfield 6-4.
Jamie Jones lost the first two frames against Ian Glover but hit back to win 6-4 with a top break of 110.
Michael Georgiou, who has recently practised with Stephen Hendry at a club in Surrey, edged out David Morris 6-5. Georgiou trailed 4-2 and 5-4 but recovered to force a decider then won it after snookering Morris on the last red.