Neil Robertson suffered a 6-5 reverse against Mark Joyce at the Betway UK Championship, which means he’ll drop out of the world’s top 16 at the end of the tournament.
Former World, UK and Masters champion Robertson made eight centuries in his three matches in York, but couldn’t shake off his opponent tonight and eventually lost in a tense finish.
The result means that Australia’s Robertson remains in 17th place in the race to the Masters, with the seeding cut off to fall at the end of this event. Assuming the 16 players ahead of him enter, he will miss snooker’s biggest invitation event for the first time since 2006.
Walsall’s Joyce, the world number 42, goes through to a last 16 meeting with Lyu Haotian.
Robertson led 4-3 having made breaks of 128, 79, 105 and 84. Joyce took the next two frames with 50 and 80 then Robertson compiled a run of 90 to make it 5-5.
In the 41-minute decider, Robertson built a 53-14 lead but couldn’t finish the job, and a long red from Joyce set him up for an excellent 42 clearance.
“I’m not quite sure how I managed to hold myself together there at the end in the decider,” said Joyce, who reached the quarter-finals of this event in 2010. “I’m absolutely thrilled. Neil was massive favourite when he was 30-odd in front with four reds left but slowly I managed to get the reds out and obviously when I got the chance they were there to be taken.
“This result is certainly up there with the best of my career, especially given how well Neil played in his first two matches.
“I’m just taking one match at a time, I’m just happy to still be in the tournament. It’s a great tournament and a lovely city and I’m delighted to be here for another couple of days.”
Robertson said: “Mark played a fantastic match. I fired in a lot of breaks and possibly playing against a higher ranked player that might have applied more pressure, but you could see out there that he was really enjoying it and he almost had nothing to lose.
“I’m not disappointed in the way I played at all. I’ve just got to congratulate him on a really great win with a good clearance at the end. I had a couple of really good chances in the decider but I ran out of position on the first and on the second chance I missed a tricky red.
“I’ve just got to keep putting in the hard work which I’m able to do more so now, so that’s a part that I’m really looking forward to.”
Mark Allen, runner-up in York in 2011, scored a 6-4 win over Peter Lines. Northern Ireland’s Allen went 3-0 up with a top break of 57 then Yorkshireman Lines won four of the next six frames with breaks of 80, 62 and 68. But world number nine Allen finished the match in style with a 119.
“I’m very happy with that win although I maybe didn’t play my best,” said Allen. “I competed well and played well in the safety department but every time I came to the table the balls were a bit awkward, it wasn’t free flowing snooker .
“I feel like I’ve been working on the right things and it’s starting to reflect not so much on my results but certainly on my performances. It’s been one of my better seasons for scoring heavily but it’s the other aspects of the game that I’m more pleased with.
“I felt so relaxed playing out there today, usually with TV there’s a few more nerves than playing on the outside tables but I didn’t really get that today.”
Allen will now face Joe Perry, who enjoyed a 6-3 win over Kurt Maflin. Perry went 4-0 up with a top break of 128, and finished the job in frame nine after Maflin had fought back to 5-3.
Scott Donaldson couldn’t build on his second-round victory over Mark Selby as he lost 6-1 to China’s Li Hang, whose top break was 134.