Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Allen has a UK title success in his sights

Mark Allen believes it is just a matter of time before he claims his first ranking title as he prepares to start his challenge for the 12BET.com UK Championship at the International Centre in Telford tomorrow.

The 24-year-old from Antrim has reached four ranking semi-finals, including last year's Betfred.com World Championship when he ended Ronnie O'Sullivan's hopes only to go out against John Higgins.

“If I play the way I know I can and keep knocking on the door, then I will start getting to finals and winning titles,” the world number 11 said.

“People keep reminding me that I've been in four semis and never a final but I don't get down about it, I know the finals will come soon enough.”

Allen helped build his reputation as one of the game's most promising prospects when he defeated Stephen Hendry in the first round of the competition in 2007.

But he went out in the next round and knows producing consistent performances will be key to his ambitions of becoming a champion.

“It's not about just winning certain matches, it's about performing on a regular basis,” he added.

“The UK and World Championship are the two biggest events in my view and I'm really hoping for a good run in Telford this year.”

Allen faces Tom Ford in the first round today, with either Ding Junhui, the defending champion, or Matthew Stevens waiting in the second round and O'Sullivan a possible quarter-final opponent.

“I had a very poor start to the season but I've done better in the last few events and I'm hoping to push on and get into the top eight of the world rankings,” he said.

Elsewhere, Higgins will begin his first major tournament since a six-month ban for bringing the game into disrepute against Stephen Lee.

The Scot won on his return to the sport last month at the European Tour Championship event in Hamm, Germany.

O'Sullivan takes on Stuart Bingham, reigning world champion Neil Robertson faces Rory McLeod and two of the greats of the game, Stephen Hendry and six-time runner-up Jimmy White, also go head to head.

Shaun Murphy plays Patrick Wallace and Mark Selby is up against Ricky Walden.

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