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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

UK Championship Rd 2 round up.

I was sitting at my computer this evening trying to figure out how I felt about this tournament so far now that we have two rounds completed and  the one thing that came to mind was an old Johnny Nash song which has a tagline in the chorus that goes "There are more questions than answers and the more I find out the less I know".I think that sums up this years UK Championship completely as although at start of play tomorrow we have only eight men remaining only a very brave man or fool would try predict who will lift the trophy come Sunday night.(needless to say I will try predict a winner at end of article)Before that lets have a look back at the round 2 action.

Ali Carter was the first man to book his Quarter final place with a 6-2 win over Mark Joyce.Joyce who of course beat Judd Trump in the first round couldn't recover from a bad start in this one and in truth Carter was never put under any pressure as he ran out  a convincing winner.

Carters opponent in the next round will be Stuart Bingham who beat one of Round 1's form men Stephen Maguire 6-4 in a high quality match.After years on the margins if the top ranks Bingham has really kicked on from winning his first ranking title in Australia last year as well as some PTC events and is currently playing like a man full of confidence..The way he wrapped up this one from 4-4 with a century and two 50 odds in the last shows us he is now someone who is not afraid to win..He will be fancying his chances of making it back to back titles after his recent Premier League win.

The other Quarter Final in the top half of the draw see's former World champion Shaun Murphy take on young Belgian sensation Luca Brecel.

Murphy reached this stage with a comfortable 6-2 win over Graeme Dott. who never really threatened to derail the 2008 winner quest for a second UK title.That said Murphy at times showed the fluent break building style that had many predicting great things from him when he burst on the snooker scene in his teens.

With that in mind who better then Murphy to know then how 17 year old Luca Brecel will be feeling listening to all the same plaudits been bestowed on him as his fairytale run in this tournament continues. Brecel who it must be remembered had to come through four rounds of qualifying just to get here shows call the signs of someone who is completely at ease on the big stage and is thoroughly enjoying himself .Today he showed his battling qualities to come back from 3-0 to beat Mark King 6-4.Whatever happens in his match with Murphy we have seen enough this week to confirm what we suspected at the Crucible earlier in the year,Luca Brecel is a name we will be hearing an awful lot of in years to come.

In the bottom half of the draw we had  battle between two men who will both feel they have under achieved in the game when Matthew Stevens took on Marco Fu.,indeed if ever a tournament summed up a players whole career it was this one for Marco Fu.In his first round match he was fabulous in beating Mark Allen but starting here he could hardly string more then a few pots together.That said to his credit he did battle back from 4-1 to 4-4.He actually looked well set to make it 5-4 but broke down when allowing Stevens the chance to counter attack,This he duly did to take the frame and then clinch the match in the seal his Quarter final place.

His opponent will be Mark Davis after a late night 6-5 thriller against John Higgins.In a match that took it's time to get going from a break building if not safety perspective Davis had a 3-1 lead at the interval.Higgins not playing anything like his best made it 3-2 before Davis cooly knocked in back to back centuries to move within one of victory at 5-2.If there is one thing we know about John Higgins though it is that he will fight until the end.In the next he delighted the York crowd by knocking in a superb 147 and followed up in the next with another big break to close to 5-4. In a tense tenth frame Davis feeling the pressure missed some good chances to win it but it was Higgins who forced the decider. At this stage you could only see one winner but to his credit Davis got in first in the last and established a 53-0 lead,Back came Higgins.and it seemed  for all the world like he was clearing to win only for him to miss the final pink.A few safety shot followed but it was Davis who cut it into the yellow pocket to secure the biggest win of his career.A thoroughly deserved win for a player enjoying the best year of his 21 year career.

We often talk in snooker about how one shot can change a players whole outlook in a game and that was certainly the case in the match between Mark Selby and Ryan Day.In an encounter where both player struggled to get going it was Day who opened up a 3-0 lead,Selby somehow ground his way back to 3-2 before the games pivotal  moment arrived.Day having missed numerous chances to seal the frame finally potted the blue to leave Selby requiring one snooker.He then rolled the pink over a pocket confident it was job done,Selby however had other idea's and played the shot of the tournament so far to get his snooker and then went on to pot a great pink and black to make it 3-3.This seemed to light a fire within him as from nowhere he found his form to knock in a 99 and a 105 to  make it 5-3. Day managed to win the next but Selby clinched a 6-4 victory to move into the next round.

Selby's reward for this win will be a mouth watering clash with Neil Robertson.The Australian has in many respects been the player of the tournament so far with two high quality displays in his first two match's moved through to the quarter finals with a 6-2 win over Barry Hawkins.He didn;t quite reach the heights of his victory over Tom Ford in round 1 here but will still will be many people idea of the winner. Selby however will be eyeing a quick return to the top of the rankings which is something he will achieve should he reach the final here,This is certainly a match not to be missed.

Thats day five over then and as I promised earlier,I gvie you my prediction for the title I think we have all seen this week why snooker is such an impossible sport to predict but going purely on form shown Neil Robertson is still the player they all have to beat.While I'm at it the player from the top half I expect to reach the final to be Shaun Murphy.I have been wrong before though!!

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