Allen, Maguire and Robertson ready for round two of UK snooker
The afternoon session of day six at the Coral UK Championship snooker features four men who have reached the final before.
Reigning champion Neil Robertson, the 13/2 second-favourite with the sponsors to retain his title, joins former winner Stephen Maguire (2004), three-time runner-up Ken Doherty and 2011 last hurdle faller Mark Allen in action.
Here, we preview their second round matches against opposition they can feel confident about beating.
Neil Robertson v Kyren Wilson
Just inside the sport’s top 64, ‘the Warrior’ Wilson, 22, is at a career-high rank thus far, but can expect his momentum to be checked by ‘the Thunder from Down Under’. While Robertson whitewashed qualifier Joe O’Connor in round one, Kyren edged namesake Gary in a deciding frame.
It’s hardly surprising, then, to discover the defending UK champion is a massive 1/8 odds-on favourite to advance again. Kettering native Wilson, meanwhile, is a 5/1 outsider, and is under no illusions about the task ahead of him.
“I played alright but I will obviously have to improve a lot to beat Neil,” he said after his opening round win. World number two Robertson should secure serene progress here, though, simply because of the gulf in class between himself and his opponent.
Yu Delu v Stephen Maguire
Glasgow’s man ‘on fire’ Maguire will be looking to turn up the heat on another Chinese cueman in Yu, following his 6-2 first round romp against Lu Ning. Delu is ranked 50th in the world, but the Scot is top 16 stock.
It was a decade ago now when Maguire, 33/1 to win the UK Championship again, burst onto the scene. He took the now defunct European Open title and this crown in York back in 2004, but trophies have been rather sparse since.
Nonetheless, the reigning World Six-red champion is strongly odds-on at 1/10 to beat Yu, who is a 6/1 shot for a big upset here.
Ken Doherty v Michael White
Who among snooker fans doesn’t have soft spot for ‘the Darling of Dublin’? Doherty plays Wales’ White in round two, and their paths have crossed at the UK Championship before.
That was two years ago when White defeated Doherty 6-3 (19/4 for a repeat scoreline), so the Neath native and world number 25 starts as an odds-on 4/11 favourite. Don’t discount the Dubliner, though.
Opponent White failed to make a century break in his first round match, but Doherty knocked in three to delight the crowd, and is tasty at 2/1 to continue his good form by reaching the last 32.
Luca Brecel v Mark Allen
Last and by no means least is an encounter between two players with bags of potential. Belgian baize boy Brecel and Antrim native Allen have one win apiece from previous head-to-heads, though the former’s came by a walkover when ‘the Pistol’ was unable to compete in their match at the China Open earlier this year.
Talented teenager Brecel rose to prominence in 2012 when he made the quarters of this event in York. He is a 3/1 outsider to beat world number six Allen, who has reached back-to-back ranking finals in the Far East recently.
A 16/1 shot to go one better here and win the UK title, ‘the Pistol’ should progress past the precocious Brecel because of his fine form, and is odds-on at 1/4 to make round three.