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Mark Allen looks for form ahead of World Championship bid

By Frank Brownlow

Mark Allen will attempt to go into next month's World Championship on a high note with a strong showing at the Players Championship in Manchester.

The Ulsterman exited the World Grand Prix in Llandudno yesterday at the hands of Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who who came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 and book a place against Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals of the £300,000 event.

Un-Nooh, who won the Six Red World Championship and reached two ranking semi-finals last year, had top breaks of 69 and 75.

Allen, who beat David Grace 4-2 in the first round of the World Grand Prix, faces Mark Davis in the £350,000 Players Championship on March 23.

Ding, although hammering Peter Ebdon 4-0 yesterday, has struggled for results this season and currently lies 19th on the projected list, with only the top 16 after the China Open in April qualifing automatically for the World Championship.

All players outside that bracket will need to win three qualifying matches to make it to the Crucible.

The Chinese ace looked back in form in a fine display against Ebdon, compiling breaks of 78, 63 and 89.

"I started the match with confidence and stayed focused," said Ding.

"I was cueing well in general. I haven't played like this for quite some time. I'm happy to be back in my normal rhythm.

"Practice only helps me maintain a certain level so my attitude is of greater importance.

"I don't really care about my position on the world ranking list. I know that there's a lot of points coming off this season because I had a great season two years ago. It will always happen unless I play like that every year."

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