Ding Nearly Sunk By Samba Star
Ding Junhui needed a tremendous clearance in the deciding frame to win 6-5 and avoid a shock defeat against Igor Figueiredo as the Betway UK Championship got underway in York.
Figueiredo, one of the two Brazilian ‘samba snooker’ potters on the pro tour, looked on course for the best win of his career when he came from 4-1 down to lead 5-4, with a top break of 105.
World number five Ding won the tenth frame then came from 61-4 down to snatch the decider with a superb 74.
“I didn’t play very well and I missed a couple of very easy shots,” said China’s Ding, UK Champion in 2005 and 2009. “From 4-1 up to 5-4 down I kept telling myself it wasn’t finished yet and I just needed to carry on. I was still confident and I wanted to take it to a decider because I think I have played more of them than him.
“I want to try and ignore the pressure, I don’t want to think ‘this is the UK Championship, this is a big event’. I just need to go in, try hard to win matches and play the best I can. Every time I make a mistake, I need to forgive myself and that is one of the hardest things for me. I still have some emotions and anger in the matches but I try to keep them down and just wait for my next chance.”
Mitchell Mann spring the biggest surprise of the opening day by beating world number 13 Kyren Wilson 6-3. Birmingham’s Mann, ranked 115th, built a 3-0 lead with a top run of 92 and eventually clinched the tie in the ninth frame with a break of 73.
“It’s just a massive relief because I’ve been losing matches lately and that damages your confidence,” said Mann. “It takes the pressure off me and hopefully I’ll be much more relaxed in my next match.”
Judd Trump, winner of this title in 2011, eased to a 6-2 win over James Wattana. From 2-1 down, world number three Trump won five frames in a row with top runs of 90, 90 and 109.
Marco Fu top scored with 114 in a 6-2 win over Josh Boileau while Ryan Day saw off Jimmy White 6-2 with a top run of 126. Northern Ireland Open finalist Barry Hawkins also enjoyed a comfortable passage into round two as he beat David John 6-0 with a top break of 129.
Anthony McGill came from 3-0 and 5-3 down to edge out Craig Steadman 6-5, taking the last three frames with breaks of 52, 67 and 104. “I played badly but I kept fighting and believed I could win,” said Glasgow’s McGill. “I made a nice break in the last frame and there are positives I can take. No one wants to lose in the first round here before the TV stages start.”