Liam Highfield completed an outstanding comeback from 5-2 down to beat Ali Carter 6-5 in the final qualifying round of the Cazoo UK Championship.
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Highfield goes through to the final stages in York and will face Stuart Bingham in the last 32. Defeat from the brink of victory will sting for Carter, who could have set up a repeat of the 2020 Masters final against fellow Essex cueman Bingham. Stoke’s Highfield lost his first six matches this season but has turned his form around in recent weeks and can now look forward to an appearance on the major stage at snooker’s second biggest ranking event.
Breaks of 90 and 79 helped Highfield to a 2-1 lead then Carter took four frames in succession with top runs of 86, 91 and 61. Back came Highfield to 5-5 with 78, 50 and 54. In the decider, Highfield had first chance and made 48 before running out of position, but he soon got back in and added 20 which proved enough.
“At 5-2 down I loosened up and went for my shots, and it came off,” said 31-year-old Highfield. “When you swing your arm at a few, sometimes your talent comes through and the game flows. I just tried to get on with it and play as I do in practice. It got edgy towards the end, even in the last frame when I was 68-0 up I knew I wasn’t over the line. I feel fit and healthy, I’ve got a couple of wins under my belt here and I don’t feel tired.”
Sam Craigie showed his quality in a 6-2 win over Ian Burns, compiling runs of 80, 104, 52, 129 and 79. Craigie will now take on the defending champion Zhao Xintong in the opening session of the tournament on Saturday from 1pm.
Estonia’s Andres Petrov saw his fine run ended by China’s Xiao Guodong. Breaks of 62, 90 and 90 helped Xiao set up a match with Judd Trump.
In the last match to finish, Matthew Selt battled to a 6-4 victory over Anthony Hamilton with a top break of 140. He now meets Kyren Wilson.