17-year-old Luca Brecel was the star of the afternoon at the Williamhill.com UK Championship as he followed up with his 6-5 first round win over Ricky Walden to beat Mark King once again (this time 6-4) to reach the quarter-finals.
The young belgian star had a terrible start to the match, quickly finding himself 3-0 down. After that though he never looked back as breaks of 65, 76, 80 helped him on the way to a 5-3 lead. King pulled one back but it was Brecel who held his nerve and a 42 was eventually enough to see him through to set up an exciting tie with another former child prodigy, Shaun Murphy.
In the match on table 1 it was less of a surprise to see world no.2 Mark Selby also come from 3-0 down to beat Ryan Day by the same scoreline, 6-4. Day took the first free frames before the Jester took the next five frames on the spin which included runs of 99 and a 103 to go 5-3. The Welshman took the next to keep himself in the game but it was too late as Selby closed off the match with a 5-1.
Selby's opponent in tomorrow's quarter-finals will be Neil Robertson who compared to his first round match (where he made four centuries in six frames) he underperformed but it was still enough for the Aussie to see off Dartford's Barry Hawkins 6-2. Both players missed several balls throughout but from 3-1 up Robertson stepped up a gear with a 67 to go 4-2 and then the next two followed rather quick to send the Australian Open champion home.
However the big story of the day belonged to John Higgins who despite being 5-2 down he made a brilliant maximum break in the 8th frame, he just got pipped to the post by Bexhill Battler Mark Davis who at the age of 40 is having the best season of his career so far, having already reached two ranking event semi-finals.
The first two frames were shared between the pair before a tacticial 55 minute third frame went the way of Davis who then added the fourth with a 61 to go in to the interval 3-1 up. The Scot pipped one back but after that it was one way traffic as Davis reeled in consecutive tons of 106 and 103 to go one away from victory at 5-2. Higgins then produced a piece of magic (see the video below) to make the 7th professional 147 of his career and then followed up with a 72 and victory in a scrappy frame to force the decider.
Runs of 39 and 14 put Davis in control, then when Higgins potted a superb long red he looked set for a clearance. But he missed the last pink off its spot, playing with side to try to hold for the black. After a brief safety exchange, Davis went for a thin cut to a baulk corner, and slotted it home for victory to put the curtain down of arguably the greatest win of his career so far. Higgins will have to console himself with the £10,000 (plus £3,500 high break prize) for making the break but no doubt he would of traded it in for a chance to win another UK title.
Here is the draw for the quarter-finals of the Williamhill.com UK Championship -
Ali Carter v Stuart Bingham (2pm)
Luca Brecel v Shaun Murphy (2pm)
Mark Davis v Matthew Stevens (8pm)
Neil Robertson v Mark Selby (8pm)