Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

World Snooker Championship: Allen’s geared up for Saturday night fever

Mark Allen could be in for another thrilling finish at the Crucible tonight

Mark Allen could be in for a dramatic Saturday night at the Crucible Theatre.

After his thrilling late night win from 9-6 down with four to play in the first round, Allen’s two-frame overnight deficit will not have caused insomnia.

The Antrim potter resumes today 5-3 down to Barry Hawkins from yesterday’s opening session with the first to 13 frame encounter set for what could be an exciting climax tonight.

Allen had looked down and out when 9-6 behind against two-time finalist Matthew Stevens on Wednesday night, but sparked by a century break and the presence of his young daughter Lauren, he battled back to nick victory in the deciding frame.

Hawkins is a solid professional but showed he has plenty of bottle when he too progressed to the last 16 on a deciding frame, edging out world number six Stephen Maguire.

It was scrappy fare at the Crucible yesterday, with the first six frames shared before Hawkins, from Kent, took the final two for an overnight cushion.

Allen was receiving treatment for depression before the £1.1million tournament started, but he shrugged off his problems to beat a very tough first round opponent in the shape of Stevens.

The 25-year-old has a big support in Sheffield, led by his father Ronnie Allen.

And they are sure to be in good voice tonight when Allen takes the stage — with the winner facing Mark Williams, who last night completed a 13-4 victory over Jamie Cope — at the famous old venue in Sheffield city centre.

Allen will share the spotlight tonight with seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry in what could be the great Scot’s last match at the home of snooker.

Mark Selby cannot bear the thought of sending Hendry into retirement but victory could have just that impact.

Hendry dropped a heavy hint after his 10-9 first-round win over Joe Perry that this may be his final World Championship.

The veteran, who made his debut in Sheffield 25 years ago, said that he would think about quitting even if he upset the odds by winning an eighth world title.

The 42-year-old and Selby meet in the last 16 for the second year in a row, with Hendry looking for revenge after a crushing 13-5 defeat.

The prospect of Hendry walking away from the sport after their encounter, which begins tonight, continues tomorrow and concludes on Monday, is not one which Selby relishes.

“It'd be nice to win, but I'd feel a bit guilty,” Selby said.

The Leicester cueman predicts that Hendry would play on if he retains his top-16 ranking.

“I still think he loves the game. It's in his heart and he shows that with the passion when he wins big matches sometimes,” Selby said. “It'd be a shame if he does retire. He's great for the game.

“I'm sure as long as he can keep winning matches he'll carry on playing.

“It's going to be a tough game. I won last year but every game is different.

“Hopefully it will be the same outcome and I'll come out and play well and win. But it's still going to be a tough game and I'm sure Stephen will be up for it just as much as I will.”

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