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Allen targets NI Open success after struggle in China

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By Luke Baker

Published 05/11/2016

Exit: Mark Allen bowed out at the semi-final stage in Guangzhou
Exit: Mark Allen bowed out at the semi-final stage in Guangzhou

Mark Allen has been hailed as the player of the tournament in the China Championship in Guangzhou - despite losing 9-3 to four-time world champion John Higgins in the semi-finals yesterday.

Ulsterman Allen will now turn his attention to the Northern Ireland Open, which starts on Monday week at the Titanic Exhibition Centre.

"Struggled from start to finish. Hard to understand why. I'll be straight back on the practice table and make amends for next comp," Allen tweeted.

The best player tribute came from Higgins himself, who said: "I'm over the moon to have won. I've beaten the player of the tournament in Mark. He was scoring the best out of anyone.

"I knew I was going to have to play my best to have a chance of winning and I played pretty close to that. I'm delighted."

The Wizard of Wishaw went 3-0 ahead thanks to runs of 54 and 131.

Although Antrim potter Allen closed the gap to 3-1 thanks to a contribution of 95, that would be the last time he was within two frames of the Scot.

Higgins charged through the remainder of the clash making breaks of 123, 77 and 78 along the way to seal his chance to play for the £200,000 top prize today when he will face Stuart Bingham.

Bingham overcome Shaun Murphy after an epic semi-final encounter.

It was Murphy who got off to the perfect start with a run of 94 in the first frame.

However, back-to-back century runs of 141 and 105 in the third and fourth frames helped Bingham to a 3-1 advantage.

The Magician hit straight back with contributions of 87 and 83 to level at 3-3 and the pair traded the final two frames to end the session locked at 4-4.

When they returned, Bingham made the first significant move, taking the 11th and 12th frames to go clear at 7-5.

Murphy halved the deficit with a tournament high of 144.

The 2015 World Champion went 8-6 up, Murphy claiming the next two to force a decider.

But Bingham made a century contribution of 114 and edged a remarkable 9-8 win.

Belfast Telegraph

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