Snooker: John Higgins hits table running on his return to action
John Higgins made a winning return to competitive action in Britain yesterday with a 9-6 victory over Stephen Lee at the UK Championship in Telford.
The three-time world champion was making his first appearance in England since he was banned for six months in May for bringing the game into disrepute, despite being cleared following an investigation into claims of match fixing.
The Scot had been level at 4-4 with Lee overnight but after trading the opening two frames the 35-year-old forged ahead to set up a second-round meeting with countryman Graeme Dott.
Dott secured his place in the next round as he reeled off six consecutive frames without reply to beat Martin Gould 9-5.
“It was good to be back playing in a BBC event again, it's a big tournament and one that I want to do well in,” Higgins said.
“Everyone has been fine with me and it's enjoyable to be among the other players and doing what I love. It was good to play in the PTC events in Germany and Prague and get some matches under my belt but I knew I would still have to play well in the big tournaments.”
World champion Neil Robertson completed his safe passage by wrapping up a 9-1 win over Rory McLeod.
The Australian needed just two more frames to progress when play resumed yesterday morning and he claimed them immediately thanks to breaks of 105 and 84.
“It's nice to get a good comfortable win, especially in a long event where you want to save something for the later stages,” he said.
Peter Ebdon became the first seed to fall out of the draw as he was beaten 9-7 by Andrew Higginson.
In yesterday afternoon's session, old foes Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry were locked at 4-4 at the midway point of their clash. Hendry opened up with a break of 104, with White responding with a century of his own — 115.
The quality dipped slightly afterwards, with Hendry adding 53 and White 55, with Hendry then well placed to go in 5-3 ahead until he missed on the blue. White nipped in and landed a stunning blue, before closing out with the pink and black to steal the frame and tie the match up.
Former world champion Mark Williams was untroubled as he opened up a 6-2 lead over Mark Davis, while Ali Carter and Mark Joyce were locked together at 4-4.