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Cazoo UK Championship – Greatest Finals

Neil Robertson defeated Judd Trump 10-9 in an epic 2020 final.

We’ve consulted some of snooker’s top analysts and pundits to find out their views on the greatest title matches ever contested at the Cazoo UK Championship.

David Hendon, Alan McManus and Neal Foulds have all given us their top three finals and explained why they have lived long in the memory…

Eurosport and ITV commentator David Hendon

David Hendon

1. 1990 – Stephen Hendry 16-15 Steve Davis

“They never played each other in a world final, but did play in two UK finals which was the next biggest thing. This was a great match, not only for the standard and excitement, but what it represented at the time in the game. This was a changing of the guard. Hendry was already World Champion, but it was a big moment for him. He was 15-14 down and potted a blue with the rest, a quintessential do or die shot. A lot of players wouldn’t have taken it on, but this was the new era. He got it and then won the decider in one visit. It was a great match first and foremost. They walked out to Tina Turner’s Simply the Best on the final night. That just about summed it up. You had one player who had dominated the previous decade and another who would go on to dominate the next one.”

2. 1985 – Steve Davis 16-14 Willie Thorne

“I actually watched this during the lockdown on YouTube. The first thing to say about this is how well Thorne played. He played in the modern way and was very attacking. He had three centuries and nine half centuries in the match. For an era that wasn’t very attacking, he played in the way you’d expect to see a UK Championship final played now. Thorne was particularly good in the third session, in fact he was outstanding. He completely outplayed Davis in that session and led 13-8. The first frame of the final session was where he missed that famous blue, which had he potted he would have almost certainly moved 14-8 up. The whole match changed. They went back to the studio after that frame and John Spencer said we could be looking back on the missed blue at the end of the night. The truth is that we are still looking back on it almost 40 years later. It was the shot that almost defined Thorne’s career sadly. If you throw Davis a bone he will grab hold of it. He admitted afterwards that he was outplayed, but he did what he did in those days and got the job done. It was a very important win for Davis having lost the world final to Dennis Taylor earlier that year.”

3. 2011 – Judd Trump 10-8 Mark Allen

“This also represented a new era. Trump had been in a world final earlier that year, causing great excitement in the process. However, he then had to back that up. It’s striking how young both Trump and Allen look when rewatching this final. These were two young players who were fearless. It was incredible how Allen threw the world at Trump on the final evening from 8-3 down. He made three centuries and a 90 break to come back like an express train. Trump was only leaving him one chance in those frames and he was clearing up. Once it got back to 9-8, Trump made a magnificent clearance of 91 to wrap it up. This victory was more impressive than getting to the world final in many ways. The spotlight was on him and he delivered. I know he didn’t go on to immediately dominate the game after that, but he has done now.”

Former Masters champion Alan McManus

Alan McManus

1. 1990 – Stephen Hendry 16-15 Steve Davis

“This was my first year as a professional so I remember it quite clearly. In a lot of ways, even though Hendry had just become world number one, it still felt like the ultimate test. It was a huge occasion to play Davis in a final of that magnitude. It felt to me like Davis was still a marginal favourite, but then again Hendry was World Champion. They were the ultimate test for each other at that point. The famous blue with the rest made it even more special. I still remember David Vine interviewing them afterwards and Stephen said he didn’t know how he cleared up at the end as his body was shaking. I was only a kid myself and I was wondering how he managed to do it. The Guild Hall was an iconic venue, which produced many classic finals. This was one of them.”

2. 2014 – Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 Judd Trump

“These two have had some brilliant games in the last three or four years, but this was special. At 9-4 down you just thought that Trump had a good run and he could be happy enough with how he’d done. All of a sudden he clicks and finds some gears. To get back to 9-9 was incredible. O’Sullivan responded and basically showed that he was still the man and he was still the top dog by winning the decider. Trump was so impressive coming back from the dead, especially considering O’Sullivan is historically such a good front runner. A lot of O’Sullivan’s big wins have been pulling clear from a player. At that point he hadn’t won that many dog fights. He showed in that game he could scrap it out and get it done with a bit of adversity. We often don’t talk about his character, because his talent overshadows everything else. He isn’t just a great front runner and entertainer, but he’s also got a bit about him and he showed it there.”

3. 2020- Neil Robertson 10-9 Judd Trump

“I wasn’t going to pick this one because it is a wee bit too fresh in the memory, but I’m going to. Even though there was no crowd, you just cannot deny the drama which the two players produced. It was good to see two guys like that going at it and actually struggling towards the end of the match. Conditions didn’t make it easy in there, but it was good to see a modern day UK final go that kind of edgy and horrible way. I’ll throw that in for that reason. It is pretty rare for a match of that importance to come down to the final pink. It was one of the closest ever UK Championship finals.”

Former world number three Neal Foulds with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White.

Neal Foulds

1. 1993 – Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-6 Stephen Hendry

“Age fits in to all of my selections and this time because O’Sullivan became the youngest ever ranking event winner at the age of 17. This was the day that the Class of 92 really emerged. We realised that not only O’Sullivan, but also Williams and Higgins were part of a really serious batch of players. To win the UK Championship at that age was remarkable. We knew what a talent he was, but that really made people stand up and take notice of what he could go on and achieve in the sport.”

2. 1988 – Doug Mountjoy 16-12 Stephen Hendry

“I feel I have a bit of a personal memory of this, because I played Doug in the spring at the World Championship prior to this event. I beat him very heavily over 25 frames. It had looked to me as if his game had completely gone to pieces. I played him again in that year’s UK Championship and he beat me 9-4. I thought my game might have gone downhill, but it hadn’t changed. Doug had got together with Frank Callan as his coach and completely turned his game around. He made three centuries in a row against Hendry and it was a remarkable performance. Of course he passed away earlier this year and people forget what a terrific player he was. Hendry wasn’t quite in his pomp, but he was roaring up the rankings. It was a great triumph for showing what you can achieve. Doug was on a roll in that match and it was a brilliant effort at 46 years of age.”

3. 2005 – Ding Junhui 10-6 Steve Davis

“This was an 18 year old against a 48 year old. Davis probably played some of the best snooker of his career in this event. That is strange because you think of his early years and you don’t think of him being a force like that at the age of 48. He knocked out defending champion Stephen Maguire to get there. This match was probably a bridge too far for him. The overseas element was involved in this match. Ding became the first player outside of Britain and Ireland to win the UK Championship and he has now won three, as well as Neil Robertson having won three himself. This was a bit of a benchmark moment in that regard. I think Ding was always going to win that final, but it was a story of young vs old. I can remember being there working for the BBC at that event and Ding looked as if he would take the game by storm. He has in a way, but he hasn’t captured that elusive world title thus far.”