OLIVER Lines leads a trio of Yorkshiremen into the second round of the Betway UK Snooker Championship in York this weekend and claims that a clash with world No 1 Mark Selby doesn’t faze him.
Lines looked in for a long night on Thursday evening after sharing the opening four frames of his first-round tie with China’s Cao Yupeng.
But words of wisdom from the Leeds cueman’s team at the mid-session interval paid dividends as he was irrepressible after the break – reeling off four straight frames and sealing the 6-2 triumph with a majestic knock of 101.
The son of fellow snooker professional Peter, Lines is only 20 years old but his lack of trepidation ahead of facing Selby at 1pm on Sunday afternoon is not just down to the fearlessness of youth.
In his short career, the current world No 67 already holds a memorable victory over the 2014 world champion – winning 6-4 at the International Championship last year despite having trailed 4-0 at the mid-session interval.
And with Sunday’s clash at the Barbican Centre slated to be on a TV table, he expecting some vociferous support from the people he’s bringing up from Leeds.
“Now I’ve won a match, all my glory supporters might come along,” joked Lines. “They don’t like being in the back room, they like being in the main arena.
“It’s the sort of occasion you play snooker for and York is the greatest venue we play in. The set-up is unbelievable out there.
“I’m just going to go in confident, the same as I do every match, and if I play well I will definitely cause him a few problems.
“I’ve beaten him before – from 4-0 down in fact – and I’m really looking forward to it.
“Mark is easily among the best three players in the world, so I best bring my A-game!”
Lines is joined in round two by Sheffield amateur Adam Duffy, who caused the story of the first round – and arguably the biggest shock in UK Championship history – by beating two-time champion Ding Junhui 6-2.
Duffy, who turned professional in 2011 but by his own admission work hard enough and dropped off the tour in 2014, now faces world No 58 Joe Swail at 7pm on Saturday evening.
His victory over Ding was a seismic shock but one man who was always convinced he would walk away victorious was the 26-year-old himself.
“I knew how well I was playing going into the game, so I was confident and I pulled it out of the bag,” said Duffy.
“I’ve been working really hard and putting loads of hours in – I know how good I am when I put the work in. I’m buzzing from it.”
And the final Yorkshireman looking to book his place in round three is David Grace – who faces world No 17 Robert Milkins at 7pm on Sunday evening.
The Leeds potter played spectacularly to rout Andrew Higginson 6-1 on Tuesday and the 30-year-old is excited to be a proper part of proceedings at the Barbican.
“It’s always nice to get the first round out of the way,” explained Grace. “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.
“Rob is always around the top 16, so it’ll be a tough match but I’ve been playing as well as I ever have. It’s just about stringing the wins together now and I know that I can beat anyone on my day.”
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