Belfast Telegraph

Defiant Mark Allen forced to show his grit as he makes progress

By Luke Baker

Mark Allen claims he is thriving without the pressure of home expectation after reaching the second round of the Betway UK Championship on Wednesday evening.

Allen made three centuries en route to a 6-4 win over China’s Chen Zhe at the York Barbican.

The Antrim man struggled in his home event, the Northern Ireland Open, last week as he reached the quarter-finals despite playing nowhere near his best and insists he is far more relaxed this week.

“I had made 136 and 132 even before my 137 in the last frame, so I knew I was scoring well,” said Allen.

“My game has been in good shape, Belfast-aside, recently so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in this tournament now.

“It’s just good to be able to come here, relax and let my arm go. It’s been a long time since I’ve come to a major event as relaxed as this because I was under a lot of stress last week. Who knows – I might go far here.”

Meanwhile, five-time UK Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan dismissed his own three-century performance as irrelevant after dismantling Boonyarit Keattikun 6-0 in the first round.

The 21-year-old Thai barely got a look-in and scored just 25 points across the six frames as O’Sullivan looked at his fluent best.

He made breaks of 129, 106, 103, 90, 80 and 63 in the rout but after hitting three centuries in a 4-3 defeat to Kyren Wilson at the Northern Ireland Open last week, ‘the Rocket’ claimed his heavy scoring would have no bearing on the competition to come.

“I got three centuries in my last match and lost, so it just goes to show that centuries don’t mean anything,” said the 40-year-old.

“I played alright, I wasn’t too sure what he would be like, but he missed a couple of balls and let me get in.

“I am just treating it a bit like a knockabout. I just feel like I have so many options, snooker is a bit of a distraction and getting my cue out is a pleasure.”

Follow the UK Championship LIVE on Eurosport with Colin Murray, Jimmy White, Neal Foulds and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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