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Allen is mastered at Palace

By Luke Baker

Mark Allen's bid for a first Masters title was halted by Barry Hawkins - but the Ulsterman can approach the World Championship at the Crucible in April with renewed confidence after a strong showing at Alexandra Palace.

Allen (pictured) humbled defending champion Shaun Murphy 6-4 in the first round and started as favourite against Hawkins last night in the quarter-finals of the £600,000 glamour event but fell to a 6-2 defeat.

The 29-year-old, the world number 11, has never won a Triple Crown - World, Masters and UK - event but his current form has suggested this could be his breakthrough season.

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