Two former world champions and a player hoping to win back his crown as snooker’s world No 1 on Sunday play today at the York Barbican but it is a 17-year-old who is hogging the limelight.
Belgian teenager Luca Brecel became the youngest player to appear at the World Championship at the Crucible in April and he is quickly gaining legions of fans at the williamhill.com UK Championship.
His 6-5 win over last year’s semi-finalist Ricky Walden on Monday night saw him through to the second round of a major tournament for the first time and the youngster will be playing for a quarter-final spot today against Mark King.
“This is unbelievable,” Brecel said after seeing off Walden.
“It was very tough. Ricky is a great player. It wasn’t the best game but I won so I am very pleased.
“This is very big for me and I still can’t believe it. Hopefully I can now go to the quarter-finals.”
On the adjoining table this afternoon will be Leicester’s Mark Selby, who knows he can take back the No 1 crown off Judd Trump if he can lift the UK title on Sunday evening. Selby faces Welshman Ryan Day.
This evening will see the turn of two former world champions in John Higgins and Neil Robertson.
The latter faces Barry Hawkins and is aiming to become only the eighth man in history to have won the world, UK and Masters titles. “It would be fantastic to hold the Masters and win the UK, that would be a special feeling. I have the opportunity to do that and to win all three in a short space of time would be great,” said the 30-year-old Australian.
Three-times UK champion Higgins, 37, faces 40-year-old Mark Davis to complete the second-round ties and the latter knows he faces a tough test.
“I’ll tighten my safety play up, you have to against John because his safety is one of the best as we know,” said Davis. “I’ll look forward to the game now because when you’re talking about the best ever he’s right up there with any of them as far as I’m concerned.”