Sheffield’s Adam Duffy produced the first shock of the Betway UK Championship when he knocked out Ding Junhui on the opening day in York.
Duffy beat two-time UK champion Ding – who is based in Sheffield – 6-2 after a dramatic clearance in the final frame, where he conjured up a late snooker.
World No 9 Ding – who has won 11 ranking titles and is China’s No 1 snooker star – struggled all evening in a tournment where he has fond memories after he first won the title 10 years ago.
Duffy – the 26-year-old former Tour player who is competing as an amateur – is joined in the second round by Leeds potter David Grace.
After losing the first frame of the match to Andrew Higginson, Grace looked imperious to rattle off the next six and claim a 6-1 triumph.
He made a fluent century break in frame four, in addition to a solid 64 in frame two as Higginson failed to come up with any answers.
It is the first time the 30-year-old has won a match at the tournament and he acknowledges that he now really feels like a proper part of proceedings at the Barbican.
“I’m delighted with that result,” Grace said. “It’s always nice to get the round out of the way.
“I sulk like a little kid if I lose the first round because you don’t win any money and you don’t feel part of the tournament, but I feel like I’m a part of it now.
“I was quite confident coming into the tournament. I’ve done a bit better this season and won a few more matches. I was playing quite well in practice but it’s always a different story bringing that onto the match table. I’ve been playing as well as I ever have, it’s just stringing the wins together now and I know that I can beat anyone on my day.”
The Leeds potter faces either Robert Milkins, who is the world No 17, or Australia’s Vinnie Calabrese in the second round.
Neither match will be easy for Grace, but he is now full of self-belief following his strong start in York.
While he is refusing to get ahead of himself, the world No 81 admits having some home comforts means the UK Championship is one that suits him.
“It’s nice to be here in York just up the road from my home in Leeds,” he added. “I stayed last night just to feel settled in but I’ll be going home now because I’ve got a few days off so it’s back to cleaning tables in the morning.
“Every game is tough when you’re not seeded so you’ve just got to take it one match at a time.
“Rob is top 16 and Vinnie is a great player so it’ll be a tough match either way.”
There was nothing to celebrate for Sheffield’s Joel Walker or Doncaster’s Ian Glover.
The latter lost 6-4 to Jamie Jones, while Walker was beaten 6-0 by wily veteran Joe Swail in the first round.
Swail made breaks of 68, 79 and 98 as Walker struggled to get a foothold in the game.
The 21-year-old is a serious talent in the snooker world, but this was far from his best display and he admits there were no positives for him to take from the game.
“It was terrible by me out there. There was no reason for it being so bad – my safety was good and I created chances but I just couldn’t take them,” said Walker.
“It was really, really poor. I had a good start to the season by qualifying for Australia and I was playing well.
“I also played well in Shanghai but (yesterday’s) just not good enough. There’s nothing I can take from it, I just have to move forward now.
“I’ve got a PTC in Gibraltar now, so I’ll probably have a couple of days off before getting back to it.”
John Higgins eased into the second round with a 6-1 victory over Leo Fernandez, after a delay in play while a crowd member was treated for a seizure.
Spectators and both players initially thought the audience member had fallen asleep, before realising the situation was not so light-hearted.
A World Snooker spokesman confirmed a member of the crowd had suffered a seizure, but received treatment and made a full recovery.
“I hope he’s okay, I heard he had a bit of a seizure or something,” said Higgins. “I heard he was in a bit of a bad way and that it wasn’t just snoring, so I hope he’s okay.”
Higgins hit a top break of 129 in a routine victory that tees up a clash with the winner of Tian Pengfei and Ian Burns in York.
Mark Davis eased past Rhys Clark 6-1, Stuart Carrington edged out Liam Highfield 6-4 while Martin Gould accounted for Allan Taylor 6-2.
Ken Doherty blitzed Tony Drago 6-0 before admitting he hopes he can harness the enjoyment factor of playing in York.
“It’s nice to play well and get in a bit of form,” said Doherty.
“There’s life in the old dog yet but finding that consistent form is the problem.”
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