SCOTLAND’S Marcus Campbell breathed a huge sigh of relief after he narrowly avoided an upset against Chinese prodigy Lyu Haotian in the first round of the UK Snooker Championship in York yesterday.
The 41-year-old, ranked 31 in the world, had to hold his nerve to win 6-5 after a final-frame decider against his 15-year-old opponent, who is more than 60 places lower in the rankings. And Campbell admitted he was in dire need of a win at the UK Championship at the Barbican after a poor recent run that has seen his recent form drop off alarmingly.
“I played well in the middle patch of the game,” said Campbell. “But he is something else. I mean, they have got everything, the young Chinese players. They have attitude and ability and they know the game as well.
“I needed that, I have been having a bit of a rough time of it family-wise with stuff happening. This is the first time my head has been a wee bit clear for about four months, I needed a win to try and get me going. So hopefully that can be it.”
Fellow Scot Michael Leslie hailed the biggest win of his career after he came from behind to seal victory over Jack Lisowski.
The 20-year-old, ranked at No 94 in the world, looked dead and buried against Lisowski at the Barbican as the highly-rated Cheltenham potter raced into a 4-0 lead. But Leslie is made of stern stuff. He had already proved himself with a win over former UK champion Matthew Stevens this season and he began to claw his way back into proceedings. And, despite only having a highest break of 48, Leslie eventually ground down Lisowski, the world No 39, to seal a superb 6-4 victory and passage into the second round in York.
“It’s just unbelievable. At 4-0 down I was playing so badly and just letting Jack go away,” said Leslie, who is in only his second year on the tour.
“He’s such a great player and, at 4-0, I was kind of thinking that 6-0 was going to sound terrible. I just had to get a frame on the board but, with each frame, I started to grow in confidence and my safety was great in the match. When it got to 4-3, I felt I was right back in the match, I had a good chance of winning.
“The way I came back is really satisfying and will stand me in good stead for the future.”
Jamie Burnett became the third Scot to secure his passage into the round of 64 as he held off a Simon Bedford fightback to take a 6-4 victory.
Liang Wenbo admitted he rushed a big chance to make snooker history as he went close to making the 100th maximum break. The 26-year-old Chinese player was bidding for his second career 147, having made his first in Prestatyn five years ago but, after clearing 15 reds and adding black each time, he missed the yellow, and with it went the chance of a £59,000 bonus. Steve Davis made the first maximum in professional competition in 1982, with Judd Trump firing the 99th during the Antwerp Open earlier this month.
The 120 break still put the seal on a 6-2 win for Liang over 19-year-old Gateshead potter Elliot Slessor, and he admitted he had been in the dark about the money he would have earned for a perfect break. The prize money for a maximum stands at £55,000 this fortnight, with an additional £4,000 for the tournament’s highest break.
“I didn’t know it was £59,000 and just concentrated on playing,” Liang said. “I got a very good chance but I was unlucky. I potted the last red, got the angle on the last black and hit it a little bit too hard so it wasn’t easy on the yellow.” He added: “I still had a chance but I think I rushed it a bit. Maybe next time.”
Liang was joined in reaching the last-64 stage of the 13-day tournament by Welshman Michael White, a World Championship quarter-finalist earlier this year. White, 22, saw off 44-year-old two-times Crucible semi-finalist Joe Swail 6-0. White’s fellow Welshman Ryan Day, who at the height of his career was No 6 in the rankings, bowed out 6-5 to 109th-ranked 21-year-old Chris Wakelin.
l British Eurosport is showing 19 snooker tournaments this season including the World Championship, UK Championship, the Masters and all ranking events. It is available on Sky, Virgin Media & BT or online/on mobile via eurosportplayer.co.uk