UK Snooker Championship 2020: World number one Judd Trump advances as defending champion Ding Junhui loses

By Steve SutcliffeBBC Sport
Judd Trump
Judd Trump has now made 751 career centuries
Betway UK Championship
Dates: 23 November to 6 December Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app from Saturday, 28 November.

World number one Judd Trump eased into the third round of the UK Championship as defending champion Ding Junhui was knocked out in a final-frame decider.

England's Trump progressed with a 6-3 victory over Welsh player Dominic Dale.

China's three-time winner Ding had led 5-3 but he lost the final three frames as England's David Grace fought back to win 6-5.

Australia's Neil Robertson and Scotland's four-time world champion John Higgins also advanced.

Robertson, who won the title in 2013 and 2015, thrashed England's Chris Wakelin 6-1, while Higgins, who won the last of his three UK Championship titles in 2010, beat Northern Ireland's Gerard Greene 6-3.

Earlier in the day veteran Englishman Jimmy White was beaten 6-1 by China's Zhou Yuelong, while Yan Bingtao was a surprise 6-5 loser to his compatriot Chen Zifan.

'I was always in control'

Fresh from beating Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Northern Ireland Open, this was Trump at his clinical best as he brought up the 750th century of his career with a break of 109 to level the score at 1-1.

Another 109 in the next frame saw him move ahead and he accelerated into a 5-1 lead. He sealed his win with a 91 after Dale had miscued a red into the right middle with the score at 5-3.

"I was always in control," Trump said. "I knew it would be a tough game. It's just about getting through the first few rounds. It is so hard to win two events in a row. I have no expectations whatsoever.

"I have already won two events this season, to win a third would be a miracle from four or five ranking events."

Trump is set to face the winner of Sunday's second-round match between Liang Wenbo and Andy Hicks in the next round.

Grace upsets the odds against Ding

Ding Junhui
Ding Junhui has not reached a ranking final since winning the UK Championship in 2019

World number 65 Grace came into the tournament in form on the back of reaching the semi-finals of the Northern Ireland Open which was also played at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes due to Covid-19 restrictions.

However, despite his good form and a near faultless opening break of 95, few would have given him a chance against a player of Ding's pedigree.

Only Ronnie O'Sullivan, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry have won the UK Championship more times than the 33-year-old from China.

But Grace took the ninth frame after a long safety exchange, drew level after fluking a red in the 10th and then took the final frame after both players had opportunities to win.

"I managed to have a good run last week and that gave me confidence coming into this," Grace told BBC Sport.

"I found a bit of something, hung in there and got over the line. It's my best win in terms of the quality of the player I have beaten."

Grace will now play China's Xiao Guodong, who came from 3-0 down to beat Belgium's Luca Bresel.

Meanwhile, Ding reiterated his concern over the return of fans, saying he would "100% not feel safe" playing in the Masters - which is scheduled to take place between 10 and 17 January at the Alexandra Palace in London - if they are present.

"In this situation you can't just let people in very easily like normal. It is not a normal year, it is difficult for everyone in the world," he said.

"Every tournament they have one or two players positive. What about 10 days after and the players come back and they give it to someone. I don't know when I will make the final decision [about playing]."

Robertson cruises into third round

Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson made 73 centuries in the 2019-20 season

While Ding was below par throughout, world number three Robertson was at his imperious best against an opponent who has never gone beyond the second round.

The 2010 world champion raced into a 4-0 lead with two 135 clearances and a break of 130 taking his tally of centuries to 32 for the season.

Only 11 players made more century breaks in the whole of the 2019-20 season and his confidence was underlined by a mid-session tweetexternal-link poking fun at a suggestion made in commentary on Eurosport that he had "fluked" the black to win the third frame.

"In the first four frames, to make three total clearances shows he didn't do very much wrong," Robertson said of his performance.

"The last couple of years Judd [Trump] and I have just been pushing each other on. The amount of centuries we have made is pretty awesome.

"He is raising the bar and it is up to the rest of the players to see what he is doing and try and learn from him. He is making me try and get better every day."

Robertson will now face Li Hang in the third round after his 6-3 win over Zhao Xintong.

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