Shaun Murphy's Stunning Red Hotshot! | 2023 Duelbits Tour Championship

Allen: I Can Keep Improving

Mark Allen has unquestionably been the player of the season so far, but sent a warning to his rivals that he is still trying to improve his game, after firing two centuries in a 4-1 defeat of Alfie Burden at the BetVictor Welsh Open.

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The Pistol has already won the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix this season, but is not resting on his success and has been working relentlessly on his game in the build up to this week’s tournament in Llandudno. Breaks of 97, 105 and 101 helped Allen to a comfortable win today, setting up a second round tie with Mitchell Mann on Wednesday morning.

“I am always searching to get better, to find a way to improve,” said the world number three. “I had a few days enjoying myself after winning the World Grand Prix, since then I have just been practising. I have been trying something new technically and today was the first time I have brought it into a match. That unsettled me a bit but as the game went on I found my rhythm and really enjoyed it.

“If my A game comes then I’ll win events, but it’s encouraging that in the last few months I have won tournaments without it. I want to go for my shots and score heavily, but it also gives me confidence to know that I don’t have to do that to win. At the UK Championship and the World Grand Prix, it was two long hard weeks where I battled for everything. It wasn’t pretty but I got the job done.”

Allen is also in with a chance of winning the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus at the end of this week, though he must at least reach the semi-finals to stand a chance of eclipsing Ali Carter in the series rankings.

He added: “Ali has a bit of a lead after winning in Germany, I can’t control what he does. I am just trying to enjoy the event and the bonus is a million miles from my thoughts at the moment.”

Wild card Liam Davies, age 16 from Newport, came from 3-1 down to score a superb 4-3 victory over Noppon Saengkham, taking the deciding frame with a break of 122. Davies has just returned from Australia where he competed in the WSF Junior and Open Championships, narrowly failing to gain a tour card. But he shrugged off that disappointment, as well as jet lag, to get the better of Saengkham and earn a tie with Robbie Williams.

“It was an unbelievable match, neither of us really made any mistakes,” said Davies, who last year became the youngest player ever to win a match in the World Championship. “By the time we got to 3-3, he was under pressure. Australia was a stunning experience though my snooker wasn’t great. I really struggled with my game there so it’s nice to bounce back tonight. I put too much pressure on myself out there, I have to remember that I’m only 16 and I should just enjoy it rather than trying to get on the tour. I feel so at home out in the arena, I am so relaxed and confident, as if I am practising.”

Judd Trump eased to a 4-0 victory over David Grace with a top break of 68 while Jack Lisowski beat Zhang Anda 4-0 with 85, 138 and 71.

Mark Selby won a ranking event match for the first time since his BetVictor English Open triumph in December, as he came from 2-0 down to beat Jamie O’Neill 4-2 with top runs of 124, 69 and 85.

Stuart Carrington edged out British Open champion Ryan Day 4-3 while Luca Brecel fired runs of 60, 81, 79 and 50 as he beat Sean O’Sullivan 4-1.