Selby & Ding out but Trump through


Venue: York Barbican Dates: 23 November-5 December Coverage: BBC One, BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and app
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World number one and world champion Mark Selby suffered a stunning upset at the UK Championship, beaten 6-2 in the second round by Iran’s Hossein Vafaei.

Selby fell 5-0 behind as Vafaei took control and though he pulled two frames back, the world number 63 won the match by fluking in a respotted black.

Favourite Judd Trump was made to work hard for a 6-3 win over Chris Wakelin.

Wakelin edged 3-2 ahead, but world number two Trump took four in a row to battle through to the next round.

The tournament has already seen a number of shocks taking place with defending champion Neil Robertson, former winner Shaun Murphy and Masters champion Yan Bingtao all heading out early.

Trump, who lifted the trophy for the only time in 2011, was a beaten finalist last year in an epic encounter and looked to be going home when trailing, but managed to claw himself over the line despite not being at his best.

Trump is favourite for the UK Championship after hammering John Higgins 10-4 to win the Champion of Champions event last time out.

Asked if he looks at the draw with other big names going out, Trump told BBC Two: “You do a little bit, you cannot help yourself.

“When a game goes scrappy, not how I want the game played, I had to dig in and you have to try your hardest. There were a couple of frames I chucked away, there were a few distractions with other tables going on.

“In the past sometimes when a game went like that I gave up a little bit and went too attacking. I let the balls dictate what happens now and give it my all every single shot.

“It definitely comes from experience, I have scraped through that one and I am still in the draw.”

Analysis

1997 world champion Ken Doherty on BBC Two:

“It was a workman-like performance from Trump. That is what you have to do, you can’t be flying straight away. He will be happy with the win but he will have higher standards of his performance. Most importantly, he is into the next round. Wakelin refused a few shots, and Judd capitalised on the chances.

“Sometimes you have to graft for wins because the standard is so high. You have to work for your victories, frames can go scrappy and you cannot make big breaks all the time.”

Vafaei claims another major scalp

Selby was facing a whitewash defeat when Vafaei made breaks of 106, 69, 55 and 56 but the Leicester player got on the board in the sixth frame before making 80 in the next.

A dramatic eighth frame saw Leicester’s Selby pot the final black but the cueball went into the middle pocket, forcing a respotted black.

After a prolonged tactical exchange, Vafaei tried to play a safety shot but ended up fluking the black into the middle pocket to take the match.

This was Vafaei’s second significant scalp of the season having whitewashed six-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-0 in the German Masters.

“Beating the top players is a big achievement for anyone,” said Vafaei. “They are our legends so I have to respect them, if they lose or win their names are always there, we don’t forget who they are. Mark Selby is one of the great ambassadors for us and such a nice champion.

“I am always up for it, I want to make my people proud of me, I want to make snooker bigger in Iran than it is now. Thanks to God, I don’t know what power he is giving me to become like that.”

Selby added: “I didn’t play good enough, Hossein was definitely the better player and deserved to win. He started off great and is a great front-runner, and if you let him get away he can blow anyone away.”

What has happened to Ding?

World number 55 Sam Craigie caused another huge shock by beating three-time champion Ding Junhui 6-3.

Craigie made breaks of 55, 69, 105 and 84 to oust Chinese star Ding, who won the tournament the last time it took place at the Barbican Centre in 2019.

“I don’t know what has happened to Ding,” seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry said on BBC Two.

“I don’t know whether we have seen the best of him.

“He looks like he doesn’t really care that much anymore. In the last tournament he twitched an easy red to beat John Higgins. Any pressure balls he does not look like getting anymore. I don’t know where Ding goes from here.”

Meanwhile, the 2004 champion Stephen Maguire was in superb scoring form, making two centuries and three further breaks of 70 or more to outclass China’s Tian Pengfei 6-1.

Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown thumped Pakistani player Farakh Ajaib by the same scoreline to advance.

Wales’ two-time champion Mark Williams was also knocked out after a surprise 6-5 defeat by England’s Anthony Hamilton.

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