UK Championship: Ding Junhui repels Xiao Guodong fightback to progress

Snooker
UK Championship: Ding Junhui repels Xiao Guodong fightback to progress

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Two-time winner Ding Junhui held off a spirited fightback by Xiao Guodong to reach the last 16 of the UK Championship at York's Barbican.

China's world number eight Ding stormed into a 3-0 lead over his compatriot with breaks of 99, 74 and 84.

Xiao replied in style, hitting two centuries in taking four of the next five frames to make it 4-4.

But an increasingly nervy Ding rediscovered his form, closing out the win with his sixth break of 50 or more.

Masters champion Mark Allen and world number six Barry Hawkins also progressed into the last 16, which starts on Wednesday.

But the evening's drama at the York Barbican came between Ding and world number 25 Xiao.

Xiao responded to Ding's blistering start with the 112th century of the tournament so far, a break that surpassed the record number of 111 set at the event in 2006.

But Ding, who faces Martin O'Donnell in round four, looked imperious early on and combined that by showing real fighting qualities to get over the line.

The 2005 and 2009 champion said he is getting better with each round but is not yet playing well enough to win a third title.

"I played well at the start but then I struggled," Ding added. "He played well and put me under pressure but then I started to go for it."

World number seven Allen was in dominant form, managing a 96 pot success rate and compiling five breaks of more than 50 as he saw off Hossein Vafaei 6-2.

Three of those half-centuries came as the Northern Irishman raced into a 3-0 lead.

World number 39 Vafaei briefly got back in the match by taking the next two frames, but Allen progressed without further alarm to set up a last-16 tie against Neil Robertson on Wednesday evening.

"I played pretty solid and didn't make many mistakes," Allen, 32, said. "He came back well to get to 3-2, but then I got a fluke and I'll take that. He's a very good player and can be a top-16 player in the future.

"Neil is a class act and I look forward to be playing him; you want to be playing the best players in the world."

Meanwhile, Hawkins trailed Gary Wilson 3-1 but won four frames in a row for a 5-3 lead and did enough for a 6-4 win - featuring seven breaks of more than 50. That tees up an exciting fourth-round tie with another Englishman, Kyren Wilson.

Ronnie O'Sullivan faces Jack Lisowski on Wednesday, while Mark Williams plays Stephen Maguire.

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