The televised stages of the UK Championship gets underway at the Barbican Centre in York on Saturday afternoon as the second round of the tournament starts with a host of top names looking to make it into the last 32 of the event.
Among those looking to make it through on Saturday are John Higgins, Mark Williams, Neil Robertson, Barry Hawkins and Stuart Bingham on a day laced with quality to get the televised stages underway.
There is an all-Scottish battle on one of the main tables on Saturday afternoon when John Higgins takes on the former World Championship semi-finalist Alan McManus in what could be the feature match on the TV. The other televised table sees two men from the same country competing as Mark Williams goes up against Daniel Wells.
The outside tables in both rooms will be busy on Saturday with the headline attraction on them in the afternoon being the match between Neil Robertson and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. Elsewhere Zhou Yuelong plays Mark Davis in a good match while Jack Lisowski plays Mei Xi Wen. European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson goes up against Tian Pengfei and Ben Woollaston takes on Xiao Guodong. Scott Donaldson faces Stephen Maguire looking to repeat his heroics of beating Mark Selby in this round last year.
Barry Hawkins is the star name on show on Saturday evening. He faces Ian Burns on one of the televised tables with the Paul Hunter Classic champion Kyren Wilson continuing his quest for another ranking title on the other TV showing. He faces Mike Dunn for a place in the third round of the tournament.
There are some big names on the outside tables again in the evening. Stuart Bingham is probably the biggest and he takes on Kurt Maflin while Mark Selby’s conqueror James Cahill goes up against Sunny Akani. Tom Ford and Robert Milkins meet in what looks like an evenly matched encounter with the other matches seeing Mark Joyce playing Lu Ning, Joe Perry facing Michael Holt and Mark King meeting Li Hang.
I’ll go with three bets over the course of the day with two of them coming in the afternoon. The first of those comes in the all-Scottish clash on the main table where I think Alan McManus can stay within 3.5 frames of John Higgins. Higgins laboured badly in beating Dechawat Poomjaeng in the first round to continue what has been a fairly lengthy slump since he lost in the final of the China Championship. McManus had a very good 6-1 win over the talented Alexander Ursenbacher in the first round and while this match might be beyond him should Higgins show a little more than he did I don’t think winning three frames is.
Also in the afternoon I’m expecting the scoring to be good when Neil Robertson and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh meet. These two have met over the best of 11 twice in the past and on both occasions there has been at least two centuries. The tables in the main arena look to be playing nicely in this tournament and both men are scoring well. Both made a ton in their opening wins and were they to repeat that here the over 1.5 centuries would land. Both are capable of covering it themselves though so I’m happy to play the over on that line.
Heading into the evening I’ll have one further bet which comes in the match between Mark King and Li Hang where I think the former Northern Ireland Open winner is extremely vulnerable to a Chinese player who is getting better by the week this season. Hang had six 50 breaks in his win over a dogged Lee Walker in the first round which should be good preparation for the match against King. To be fair heading to Belfast Hang’s season was dreadful but he slammed in a 145 break and walloped Neil Robertson in that tournament before Ebdon took care of him in the last 16. He looks to have maintained his form from there though and I think he can win this one. King made the semis in the European Masters but his season has been much of a muchness either side of that. I’ll take the Chinese player here.
WON – Back A.McManus (+3.5 frames) to beat J.Higgins for a 4/10 stake at 1.80 with Betfred
Back him here:
Back L.Hang to beat M.King for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
WON – Back N.Robertson vs T.Un-Nooh – Over 1.5 centuries for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365