Snooker: Maguire puts swift end to Doherty's UK title ambition
KEN DOHERTY crashed out of the UK Championships at the first-round stage as Stephen Maguire edged him out 9-6 on Saturday.
A qualifier for the event, the Ranelagh man responded to going one down early on by storming to a 93 break to level, but Maguire escaped his clutches in the third frame and led 4-1 after returning from the interval with a 137.
Doherty pulled one back in the fifth with breaks of 49 and 83, but a 127 from Maguire made it 6-2. The 41-year-old halved the deficit in the evening but he left himself with too much to do as Maguire progressed to meet Mark Selby.
Three-time world champion John Higgins defeated Stephen Lee 9-6 on his return to competitive action in Britain yesterday.
Higgins was making his first appearance in England since he was banned for six months in May for bringing the game into disrepute, despite being cleared following an investigation into claims of match fixing.
The Scot had been level at 4-4 with Lee overnight but, after trading the opening two frames, the 35-year-old forged ahead to set up a second-round meeting with fellow Scot Graeme Dott.
Dott secured his place in the next round as he reeled off six consecutive frames without reply to beat Martin Gould 9-5.
"It was good to be back playing in a BBC event again," Higgins said. "It's a big tournament and one that I want to do well in. Everyone has been fine with me and it's enjoyable to be among the other players and doing what I love.
"It was good to play in the PTC events in Germany and Prague and get some matches under my belt but I knew I would still have to play well in the big tournaments."
World champion Neil Robertson cruised into the second round as he routed Rory McLeod 9-1. The Australian needed just two more frames to progress when play resumed yesterday morning and he claimed them immediately thanks to breaks of 105 and 84.
Selby beat Ricky Walden 9-6 and Northern Ireland's Mark Allen had a break of 141 in his 9-5 win over Tom Ford, while Peter Ebdon became the first seed to fall out of the draw as he was beaten 9-7 by Andrew Higginson.