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Mark Allen feels confident as World bid hots up at Crucible

By Joshua Richards

Published 23/04/2016

Making mark: Mark Allen goes into tomorrow’s second round showdown against Kyren Wilson on top form
Making mark: Mark Allen goes into tomorrow’s second round showdown against Kyren Wilson on top form

Only Marco Fu recorded a more emphatic first round win at the World Championship than Mark Allen this week, so it's little wonder Ulster's finest has his tail up ahead of his clash with qualifier Kyren Wilson.

Allen recorded seven 50-plus breaks in his 10-3 victory over Mitchell Mann on Wednesday with a high of 104.

Ominous form that will have shown the other big hitters in the draw that he means business on the table in his 10th visit to Sheffield's snooker headquarters.

And off the table he has spent the hours since swanning around the Crucible Theatre with a welcome swagger.

Practice time has been broken up by regular calls into the media room to share a joke with the world's press and sampling the finest cuisine Sheffield has to offer, while he even volunteered to front up World Snooker's annual Disability Day on Thursday.

For a man who has been brutally honest in the past about suffering with depression - a condition affecting several players on the tour - it is a pleasure to see the 30-year-old from Antrim so apparently comfortable with life currently.

So, despite the fact Ronnie O'Sullivan broke his vow of silence this week simply to tip Wilson to one day become the world's best, it is little wonder Allen believes he can be more than a match for the young qualifier.

"It's going to be tough and a tight match," said the world No7.

"On the back of his first ranking event win this year it's going to be tough.

"But if I can go out there and just control myself the way I have been in the last few months my game is in good enough shape not to worry about my opponent."

Of Allen and Wilson's four previous meetings three have fallen this season.

Wilson breezed past Allen 6-1 in the Shanghai Masters semi-final on the way to winning his first ranking title.

But Allen got his own back with 6-3 victories at the International Championship and then the Champion of Champions semi-final, a result that eventually earned him £100,000.

Playing in the second round at the Crucible is uncharted territory for Wilson, with victory over Joe Perry late into Thursday night his maiden triumph in the £1.5million showpiece event.

Yet he is relishing going head-to-head with old foe Allen once more.

"It's nice to get the first win at the Crucible and play my first best of 25," said Wilson.

"Me and Mark have played quite a lot this season. It's fantastic to play these top players, at the top venues under the top conditions.

"So it's something I'm looking forward to."

Allen starts out against Wilson tomorrow morning, resume in the evening and then play to a finish on Monday afternoon.

Current world number one Mark Selby - the champion in 2014 - or qualifier Sam Baird await in the quarter-finals.

Selby looks to be in for a tough battle against Baird as they shared the first session of their match 4-4.

Selby led four times, but was hauled back to level by Baird on each occasion.

Selby knocked in breaks of 50, 81 and 62 while Baird impressed with runs of 53, 58, 100 and 85.

The pair play to a finish this evening.

Meanwhile, Marco Fu beat Anthony McGill 13-9 last night to set up a quarter-final shootout against either Ronnie O'Sullivan or Barry Hawkins, who start out today. Fu had the highest break of the evening session, knocking in a century.

Ali Carter will go into today's final session of his match against Alan McManus with a 9-7 advantage.

l Watch the World Championship LIVE on Eurosport, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Belfast Telegraph

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