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Ssb - down to the quarters

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  • Ssb - down to the quarters

    Nothing I could write would do justice to the excitement of the Mark Davis-John Higgins match last night. Suffice to say it is one of the matches of the season so far.

    After a closely fought start, Davis pulled away to lead 5-2 with back-to-back centuries before Higgins contributed a quite brilliant maximum, the seventh 147 of his career.

    This sparked a comeback which appeared set to be completed when Higgins was clearing up in the decider but he missed the final pink and Davis eventually slotted it home from distance.

    There are several things which could be said about all this but I’ll pick just three.

    Firstly, it provided further proof that snooker does not need to be artificially messed about with in order to provide drama and entertainment.

    Second, the reverential hush of the crowd is what makes the atmosphere, not a bunch of boozed-up bores shouting out.

    Third, what about Davis? 21 years on the tour but in the last couple of years producing the best snooker of his career. You’d have to be a pretty spiteful sort not to be genuinely pleased for him.

    It was a dramatic day all round, particularly in the Mark Selby-Ryan Day match.

    Selby was all at sea trailing 3-0 and should have gone 4-2 down but played the two best shots of the tournament for 3-3.

    Day had failed to pot the pink which meant Selby could win the frame with the aid of a snooker. The black was just off the middle of the baulk cushion.

    Selby nailed the snooker and later potted the pink to the yellow bag, taking the cue ball all round the table to land perfectly on the black. He won 6-4.

    Luca Brecel was also 3-0 down but became the youngest ever UK Championship quarter-finalist with a good comeback, beating Mark King 6-4.

    King is a tough campaigner but it seems to be very difficult to get under young Luca’s skin. Mark Williams said earlier this year that he would reach a ranking semi-final this season. A few eyebrows were raised but, if Brecel beats Shaun Murphy today, he will have been proven right.

    Murphy has played well so far but the 17 year-old is having the time of his life and has plenty of crowd support.

    The only way is Essex for Basilton’s Stuart Bingham and Chelmsford’s Ali Carter. They played once in York and Carter was docked a frame for late arrival, which would be even more damaging in a best of 11.

    (As an aside, why not play the semi-finals on the same day and free up a day for best of 17 quarter-finals?)

    Selby v Neil Robertson is an interesting one because they’ve hardly met before. Robertson was scathing about conditions after his 6-2 win over Barry Hawkins last night, but he will be on the other table this evening, the one on which he compiled four centuries against Tom Ford in the first round.

    As for Davis v Matthew Stevens, this is a hard one to call. Stevens hasn’t played his best stuff yet but came good when he had to against Marco Fu.

    Davis is of course on a high but needs to come down from this as he attempts to reach his third ranking event semi-final of the season.