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Doherty, Fu and Williams begin bids to win UK Championship

Snooker fans and punters will wake up on day three of the Coral sponsored UK Championship in York, with three hugely popular players in action.

‘The Darling of Dublin’ and BBC pundit Ken Doherty, fellow former finalist and Hong Kong cueman Marco Fu, plus two-time winner of this event Mark Williams are all involved in a marvellous morning session.

Irish potter Doherty does battle in a best of 11 frames format against Birmingham-born Mitchell Mann, and Coral make the 1997 world champion odds-on 8/15 favourite to advance to the second round.

Mann, a 6/4 shot to upset the Dubliner, is rated almost 50 places below Doherty, but is a danger. He recently recorded his best performance at a ranking tournament by reaching the second round of the International Open, also racking up a career high break of 142.

Former Masters champion Fu, meanwhile, is consistently reaching the business end of events this term. He has made the quarter-finals of the Wuxi Classic, International Championship and Champion of Champions tournaments.

In York, world number 10 Fu’s first assignment is an encounter with Qatari cueman Ahmed Saif, and the beaten 2008 UK finalist is massively odds-on at 1/20 to win this round first round fixture. Match outsider (12/1) Saif simply should not be shocking Fu, who is a 40/1 shot to go one better this year and lift the trophy.

Williams, a winner of this title in 1999 and 2002, takes on Lincoln lad Steven Hallworth, with the teenager ranked over 100 places below ‘the Welsh Potting Machine’. A 60/1 shot for a third UK trophy, Williams has completed the career Triple Crown in snooker twice.

Youngster Hallworth, a 6/1 shot to pull off a shock, lost his only previous meeting with the Welshman 4-0 at a European Tour event in Antwerp last season. Williams, odds-on at 1/9 to beat his opponent and 13/2 to whitewash him again here, conceded just 68 points as he romped to victory.

All signs point to a similar story, after Williams’ recent run to the International Championship semi-finals.