World number 81 David Grace continued his incredible run at the Betway UK Championship with a 6-2 win over Peter Ebdon to reach the quarter-finals in York.
Leeds cueman Grace, who had already knocked out Andrew Higginson, Robert Milkins and Jack Lisowski, is through to the last eight of a ranking event for the first time and is guaranteed a career-biggest pay-day of £20,000. In fact the 30-year-old only won one match in the main ranking events last season and has to supplement his income by cleaning tables at the Northern Snooker Centre.
Grace, supported by friends and family including fiancée Gemma, built a 5-1 lead with top breaks of 84, 75 and 67. He passed up a match-winning chance in frame seven when he ran out of position on the last red on 60, allowing former UK and World Champion Ebdon to clear the table. But when Ebdon missed a black off its spot on 50 in the next frame, Grace seized his opportunity with a superb 53 clearance.
“Every match I play here is the biggest of my career,” said Grace, who now meets Martin Gould or Joe Swail. “I’ve been around a long time and done nothing so I was due a run. I was a bit lucky in the first few frames today, I fluked a few balls. That’s what happens when you’re having a good week, and you still have to take advantage. I just kept calm and had a good frame of mind.
“A week ago I was playing my first match trying to win £4,000, now I’m on £20,000. Events like these can change your life very quickly, I’ve just not done it before now. And hopefully I’m not finished yet.”
Grace is also a talented artist who sells portraits of snooker players, and was asked by the BBC for a sketch of Ebdon during a filmed feature yesterday. “I was under more pressure drawing him than playing him,” joked the Yorkshireman. “I usually spend hours on paintings and they only gave me 45 minutes.”
Grace also paid thanks to fellow Leeds cueman Sanderson Lam who took over his day job this morning. “It was murder finding someone to clean the tables at the club, but luckily Sanderson agreed to cover for me,” he said. “I’ll be back in there on Monday.”
World number one Mark Selby booked a quarter-final place with a 6-1 victory over Dechawat Poomjaeng.
Selby came within a whisker of defeat against Jamie Jones in the previous round, but won that match 6-5 and played with far more freedom today in a commanding display against Thailand’s Poomjaeng. Selby, seeking his second UK title having lifted the trophy in 2012, now meets Luca Brecel or Matthew Selt.
Breaks of 82, 58, 106, 86 and 98 gave Leicester’s Selby a 5-0 lead. Poomjaeng pulled one back but Selby sealed victory in frame six with a 31 clearance which included a brilliant positional shot from pink to black.
“I should have been put out of the tournament by Jamie the other night,” admitted Selby. “But having come through that match I’m feeling less pressure, and today I was relaxed and played my own, game.
“If I get to the semi-finals I’ll be in the home stretch and starting to focus on the title. But I’ve got another tough match before that.”