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UK Championship: Stephen Maguire to face Ding Junhui in final

UK Championship: Stephen Maguire to face Ding Junhui in final

Stephen Maguire produced a sensational performance to thrash Mark Allen 6-0 and set up a UK Championship final against Ding Junhui on Sunday.

Scot Maguire, 38, won the tournament 15 years ago and faces China's Ding, who lifted the trophy in 2005 and 2009.

Maguire made two centuries and three further breaks of 50 or more to trounce Northern Ireland's Allen, while Ding swept aside compatriot Yan Bingtao 6-2.

The best-of-19 final at the York Barbican begins at 13:00 GMT.

"I can't remember ever playing like that to be honest" Maguire said on BBC Two after the match.

"That felt good out there."

"The third frame to get to 3-0 was the killer and that made all the difference."

Maguire's temperament has often been questionable with his outbursts of frustration but he has managed to keep that in check this year to progress to his first UK final since 2007 when he was crushed 10-2 by Ronnie O'Sullivan.

He suffered a fractured foot in China in October and said it had been causing him some discomfort during the tournament when hobbling round the table, although it did not hinder him from displaying another high-scoring showing.

Maguire promised to attack after his quarter-final win over Welshman Matthew Stevens and stayed true to his word, knocking in rapid breaks of 95, 129 and 72 for a sizeable 4-0 advantage.

Allen had a chance in the fifth but broke down as Maguire - whose last ranking event win came at the 2013 Welsh Open - capitalised with 50 to go one from victory and completed a remarkable win with a composed 100 break.

"It is hard not to be disappointed but I don't feel like I was in that match," Allen said.

He played superbly from start to finish. He went for his shots, was aggressive and looked like he wanted it.

"If he plays like that, he will definitely beat Ding but it will be hard to replicate."

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China's Ding returned to form by sweeping aside 19-year-old compatriot Yan 6-2 to reach his third UK Championship final.

Two-time champion Ding, 32, has struggled this season, beaten in the first round of three events, and last winning a ranking title over two years ago.

But he did not relinquish hold of the match after taking the first three frames and although Yan pulled two back, he could not get going.

"It was a tough game," Ding said on BBC Two. "He beat John Higgins so I knew he must be confident.

"I was concerned when I made a big mistake at 4-1 up and I tried to forget it and look for a chance.

"I'm playing my snooker and it's good to have it back, and I'm getting better."

The clash between China's top two players was estimated to have an audience in the tens of millions of fans across TV and online in their home country.

The experienced Ding first lifted the trophy in 2005, when Yan was just five years old, and has gone on to claim 13 ranking titles in his career - the most recent of them at the World Open in September 2017 - while his teenage opponent is one of the up-and-coming stars of the sport.

Yan won his first ranking title at the season-opening Riga Masters in July and earned highly impressive victories over past winners Neil Robertson and John Higgins in the previous rounds here.

But the world number 20 seemed overawed by his first last-four appearance at a Triple Crown event, missing relatively straightforward pots as Ding capitalised with breaks of 68, 85 and 60 for a 4-1 lead.

Yan hit back with a fluent 95, but Ding took the two frames required, closing out the match with 53 and 60 to progress to the final for the first time in a decade.

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