Belfast Telegraph

UK Championship: Mark Allen dines at snooker's top table

For a player renowned for his fist-pumping celebrations it would be advisable to keep a safe distance if Mark Allen is floored by a bunch of fives this evening.

Allen takes on three-time world champion John Higgins in the last four of the UK Championship in Telford with the unenviable record of having lost all four of his previous ranking tournament semi-finals.

And that included the classic encounter with the world number two in the 2009 World Championships in Sheffield when the Wizard of Wishaw had just enough in his box of tricks to finally see off the Antrim ace 17-13.

Higgins went on to clinch his third world crown but there was a measure of revenge for the Fountain Snooker Club star at the Masters earlier this year when Allen sent the Glasgow man crashing out at the first round hurdle.

Worse was to come for Higgins, caught up in the unseemly scandal that besmirched the game and although cleared of any wrong-doing, he was handed a six-month ban by snooker’s lawmen for bringing the sport into disrepute by failing to report an approach during match fixing allegations.

It was threatening to be a real ‘annus horriblis’ for Higgins but with the ban lifted he made a low-key winning return in the European Tour Championship event in Germany.

He has maintained that form in Telford this week, and even admits that he has been surprised he has come back with such a roar.

“It's beyond my wildest dreams to have won so many matches since I've come back,” he said.

“I'm feeling great about my game.”

Allen will hope to make him feel a whole lot worse come this evening and knows he’s due.

“It's my fifth semi and hopefully it will be my first final and I will be the man who stops John,” he explained. “I won't be nervous, it's up to me to go out there and play well, and if I lose I'll just try to do it next time.”

The semi-final is played over the best of 17 frames, with the first session getting underway at 12.30pm and played to a finish from 7.00pm.

Belfast Telegraph


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