UK Snooker Championship 2020: Mark Selby beats Iran's Hossein Vafaei to reach last 16

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport
Mark Selby
Selby won the UK Championship in 2012 and 2016
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.

Two-time champion Mark Selby outfought Iran's Hossein Vafaei 6-2 to reach the last 16 of the UK Championship.

World number 36 Vafaei had taken a 2-1 lead but Selby took five in a row, including a prolonged fourth frame and the seventh on the black for victory.

Selby, who won the title in 2012 and 2016, faces fellow Englishman Barry Hawkins in the next round.

World finalist Kyren Wilson was in high-scoring form, with two centuries and a 99 in a 6-3 win over Kurt Maflin.

Englishman Wilson fell 2-0 behind but turned the match around in superb fashion, making further runs of 54 and 62 to set up a tie against Scotland's Graeme Dott.

A Mark Williams comeback was ultimately in vain as the two-time winner suffered a 6-5 defeat by Ricky Walden.

Wales' Williams trailed 5-2 and took three in a row to level the contest, but Englishman Walden reeled off a cool 55 in the deciding 11th frame to set up a meeting with world number one Judd Trump.

The 2004 champion and last year's runner-up Stephen Maguire also suffered an agonising final-frame defeat against world number 112 Pang Xunxu.

China's Pang surged into a 3-0 lead, but Maguire hit back with five frames on the trot which included two centuries, before 20-year-old Pang responded superbly with breaks of 102, 54 and 95 to go through.

Selby looking forward to Hawkins encounter

Leicester's former world number one Selby has struggled for confidence in recent seasons, failing to reach the quarter-final stage of this tournament since last triumphing four years ago.

But he has shown glimpses of returning to his best in claiming the English Open and World Grand Prix last season, as well as the European Masters at the start of the current one.

Selby had showcased his trademark granite style to pinch a fourth frame that lasted over an hour, with the last red taking 20 minutes to pot following a lengthy tactical exchange.

He then found some fluency after the mid-session interval with breaks of 50 and 52 to go through.

"It was scrappy out there but I got the win and that is the main thing," Selby told BBC Sport.

"Barry is a great lad and I have got to known him a lot better over the last few years and when we are at tournaments we go out for food together so I am always rooting for him to win and he is rooting for me.

"Tomorrow will be different - we will both go out there and try our best and we will still be friends... unless he beats me!"

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