In a repeat of the UK Championship final, Mark Allen once again recovered from a slow start to beat Ding Junhui, this time by a 4-3 scoreline to reach the last 16 of the BetVictor English Open.
In York last month, Allen came from 6-1 down to see off Ding 10-7 and claim the UK title, and tonight he again proved a tough nut to crack as he won the last three frames with a trio of breaks over 80. Seeking his third title of the season and playing with a high level of consistency, Allen now meets Zhao Xintong or John Astley in round four in Brentwood.
A scrappy opening frame went Ding’s way and he made a 124 in the second for 2-0. The next two were shared then Allen compiled a run of 86 to close to 3-2. The Northern Irishman enjoyed a huge slice of luck at the start of frame six when, attempting safety, he fluked a red which set him up for a break of 94 for 3-3.
The key moment of the decider came when Ding, trailing 18-0, failed to make contact with a red when playing a thin safety, and caught the red on the way back up the table, leaving his opponent an inviting opportunity. Allen took full advantage with a match-winning 113.
“I wasn’t feeling well today – I had a headache and spent most of the day in a dark room, and at 3-1 my back was against the wall,” said world number five Allen. “The game brings different challenges and I enjoyed that tonight against a very good player. Because I have lost weight this year, I am not as tired in those situations and I get around the table better. Mentally I am in a very good place and most tournaments are won and lost on what happens between the ears.”
John Higgins enjoyed a tremendous fight back from 3-1 down to beat Robert Milkins 4-3. Breaks of 86, 56 and 62 gave Higgins the last three frames as he reached the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time this season. The result keeps alive Higgins’ hopes of qualifying for the World Grand Prix; he must reach the final this week to climb into the top 32 of the one year list and earn a place in Cheltenham next month.
Judd Trump top scored with 118 in a 4-0 win over Fraser Patrick, setting up a repeat of his BetVictor Scottish Open quarter-final against Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. Yuan Sijun had been among the chasing pack in the World Grand Prix race but he is now out of the running as he lost 4-1 to in-form Un-Nooh, who knocked in breaks of 125 and 122.
Mark Selby, looking to end a spell of 19 months without a title, top scored with 102 in a 4-1 defeat of Wu Yize. Seventh seed Kyren Wilson became the first player ranked among the world’s top 13 to be knocked out as he lost 4-1 to Jamie Jones, who made breaks of 73 and 102.
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