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Injured Williams Into Second Round

Mark Williams came through his first round match at the Coral UK Championship this morning, despite being troubled by neck and shoulder pain.

By Mark Rawlinson

A new slim-line Williams has lost almost two stone thanks to a new fitness programme but a recent trip to the gym caused him to strain neck muscles. This compromised some of his shot choices during his 6-1 win over Steven Hallworth.

“I’ve been hitting the weights in training for the last month or so but I’ve done something to my neck,” explained Williams. “I’ve had for a few weeks now and it’s starting to get worse.

“I’ve had a bit of physio back home and it has eased up a bit but I need some more for definite. I couldn’t get down to some of the shots today, I just couldn’t stretch out for them so I had to get the rest out.

“There is no sign of it clearing up in the next few days, I think it could take a while.”

The injury didn’t hinder the two-time UK Champion too much as he managed to come through the match against rookie Hallworth with relative ease, knocking in top runs of 101, 83 and 75.

“I knew it would be difficult for him starting off because it is a big arena,” said Williams, who can gain a place in the Masters with a good run in York.

“I always treat every player the player the same no matter who they are. I’ve played him before and practised with him at the Sheffield Academy and I know he is a good player.

“I’m playing a lot better and making a lot more breaks. I’ve lost a couple of stone now and I might try and lose a little bit more.”

1997 World Champion Ken Doherty was in free-scoring form, making three centuries during a 6-2 win over another tour debutant, Mitchell Mann.

The three-time UK Championship finalist rattled in scores of 109, 110 and 102 on course to victory and was pleased with how he played.

“I started very well I must say and it’s nice to get through,” he said. “Scoring-wise I was very happy with how I played – when I got in I scored really well and I’m delighted with that part of my game.

“I made three centuries in the match and there won’t be a lot of first round matches where a player has got three centuries. From that point of view, they always give you confidence.

“This is a big championship with a lot of great memories for me here. I’ve had a lot of great matches here at the York Barbican, I have had a few nightmares as well, but I try to think of all the good matches and good memories! I love York, the city is great and there are good crowds as well.”

Marco Fu came through a very testing match against Qatari player Ahmed Saif, eventually winning 6-4. The Hong Kong player lost to amateur Mitchell Travis in the biggest shock of the opening round 12 months ago and it looked like another upset could be on the cards this year. However, in frame ten Saif missed a mid-range brown which allowed Fu to clear to the pink to secure victory.

Mark Davis, a semi-finalist here in 2012, came through his opening match, beating Welshman Jak Jones 6-2. He faces Liam Highfield next after the Stoke-on-Trent potter recorded a 6-3 win over Jamie Jones.

Belgian Luca Brecel defeated Noppon Saengkham 6-1, with a top run of 103 whilst Jimmy Robertson downed young Chinese star Zhou Yuelong, also 6-1.

Despite making breaks of 137 and 117, Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was shaded out by Finnish player Robin Hull, who made a break of 91 to win the deciding frame.