Allen Outlasts Fan To Make Last 16
Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen defeated Chinese debutant Fan Zhengyi 10-5 to set up a second round showdown with 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham at the Cazoo World Championship.
Allen arrived in Sheffield off the back of his best ever season on the World Snooker Tour, having won three ranking titles at the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix.
However, he has had a difficult time at the Crucible in recent years and will be desperate to remedy his record on snooker’s biggest stage. The Antrim cueman has only made it beyond the second round once in the last 11 years. Allen’s solitary semi-final appearance came all the way back in 2009.
Fan departs at the first hurdle on his Crucible debut. However, he will be able to reflect on an impressive qualifying campaign, which saw him beat Stephen Maguire 10-6 to earn his place in the final stages.
Allen emerged from the opening session with a 6-3 advantage, although Fan will have been pleased to rally from 5-0 down to remain in contention. The world number three got off to a strong start this evening, extending his advantage to 7-3 thanks to a break of 126.
The 11th frame saw the match become a more fragmented affair. It was eventually decided when Allen took on a long red and missed. Fan stepped in with a break of 43 to make it 7-4. The following frame lasted a mammoth 50 minutes, with Fan again coming out on top to close the gap further still at 7-5.
Fan then missed a good chance on the final pink to the top right and left the ball at the mercy of Allen, who restored his three-frame cushion to lead 8-5 heading into the mid-session interval.
When play got back underway a refreshed Allen blitzed his way to the line. Breaks of 101 and 64 were enough to wrap up a 10-5 victory.
“The frame before the interval was really big. If it went 7-6, I think Fan would have been in the ascendancy. His long potting was really good and he was playing some clever safety. To see that pink go over the pocket was huge,” said nine-time ranking event winner Allen.
“I felt like mentally I was ready for anything out there. The work that I’ve done with Paul Gaffney (sport psychologist) over the last 12 months has stood me in good stead. I’ve even practised differently in the build uip. I’ve actually taken my foot off the gas in the last week. Normally, I try to do seven or eight hours a day. I feel like I’ve conserved a lot of energy.
“The bottom line is I haven’t played well enough here. I feel that I’ve always prepared really well. I’ve tried the same thing year on year. It hasn’t worked and I was expecting different results. I’ve tried something different this time and I’ve even done a bit of commentary. Some people have criticised me for that, but I feel I need to try something different to break the monotony of not going well here.”