Higgins And Allen Reach Last 16

John Higgins and Mark Allen both scored resounding 6-1 wins at the Betway UK Championship to book places in the fourth round.

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Three-time UK Champion Higgins saw off Ian Burns to set up a meeting with Stuart Bingham.

The first three frames tonight took nearly two hours in total and world number five Higgins won each of them on the final black. The Wizard of Wishaw then found a break-building groove to take three of the last four frames with runs of  96, 124 and 88.

“Ian will be gutted by the way he played. I couldn’t believe I was 4-0 up at the interval,” admitted 44-year-old Higgins, who is seeking his first ranking title since the 2018 Welsh Open. “It’s hard for the lower ranked players to come on to the main stage, he struggled with his game and I picked up the pieces.

“I saw Judd Trump losing earlier today and that was a reminder to me that I needed to be on my toes tonight and stay focused. I take my hat off to Nigel Bond because he was brilliant. As you get older it gets harder to control your emotions and nerves but he managed to do that.

“I will give it my all against Stuart Bingham, it’s a 50/50 game. He has had some good wins this week so he’ll be confident.”

Pistol – Titles Are The Bottom Line

Allen got the better of Ben Woollaston with top breaks of 60, 64, 75 and 69. The Northern Irishman was runner-up at this event in 2011 and 2018 and hopes he can go one better this year.

“There are a few things I need to sharpen up on, but all in all I’m very happy to be in the next round,” said world number seven Allen. “So far this season I have been steady but not spectacular. I am consistently winning a lot of matches but I haven’t won a tournament yet and that’s the bottom line.

“I was really under the weather earlier in the week and finding it hard to focus with a head cold. I’ve had a couple of days on Lemsips and I’m much better so there are no excuses. There will only be 16 players left by the end of tomorrow and I believe I’ve got a good chance of winning.”

Matthew Stevens, champion here in 2003, reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time in 2019 by beating Anthony Hamilton 6-2 with a top break of 97. Kurt Maflin top scored with 71 in a 6-2 defeat of Alan McManus.