Tuesday 12 December 2017

Allen makes his mark in China again

Mark Allen beat Matthew Stevens 10-4 to retain his Haikou World Open title
Mark Allen beat Matthew Stevens 10-4 to retain his Haikou World Open title

Mark Allen retained his Haikou World Open crown after thrashing Matthew Stevens 10-4 in the final in China.

Allen never looked back from winning the first four frames and eventually won at a canter even though his his Welsh opponent narrowed the deficit back to 7-4 in the evening session.

The Northern Irishman became the first person to win a world ranking tournament in successive years since John Higgins, whom Allen beat in the semi-final, triumphed in the Welsh Open in 2010 and 2011.

"I'm very happy to win and retain my title, to win the same tournament two years in a row is a great achievement," Allen told worldsnooker.com. "The snooker wasn't as good as I had hoped. I didn't get into a rhythm and I didn't score very heavily. The scoreline was flattering, it wasn't as one-sided as that.

"But the result is all that matters. My form has been good for the last few months so I'm relieved, more than anything, to finally get a win. Hopefully I can push on now and win more."

Allen won the first three frames thanks to breaks of 48, 52 and 93.

Stevens led 55-0 in the fourth frame only to see his opponent respond with a clearance of 58 but any thoughts Allen would storm to victory - like he did when he thumped Stephen Lee 10-1 in last year's final - were put on the backburner when his Welsh opponent reduced the deficit to two frames with breaks of 67 and 112.

However, 27-year-old Allen regained a four frame advantage, which included a break of exactly 100 to go 6-2 ahead.

Stevens, competing in his first final in five years, ended the session on a high note by winning the last frame and keeping his hopes of a fightback in the evening session alive. And the 35-year-old appeared set to narrow the deficit further but poor positional play in the 10th frame cost him dear, with Allen snatching it following a brilliant long pot on the blue.

A century break brought Stevens back to within three frames, but Allen made 55 and 68 - in-between a scrappy frame which the Antrim cueman also won - to clinch victory.

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