UK Snooker Championship 2017: Mark Selby defeats Basem Eltahhan
|2017 UK Championship|
|Date: 28 Nov-10 Dec Venue: York Barbican|
|Coverage: Watch live across BBC Two, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app from 2 December.|
Reigning champion Mark Selby withstood an impressive display by world number 131 Basem Eltahhan to secure a 6-4 first-round win at the UK Championship.
Egypt’s Eltahhan, 35, had not won a frame in his only two appearances since qualifying for this season’s tour.
But he was level at 2-2 with world number one Selby at the interval thanks to breaks of 79 and 99 – and could have been 4-0 up.
Selby, 34, regained his composure to lead 4-2 before edging through.
“He played like a top-32 player,” Selby said. “He did himself proud. I said to him if he keeps performing like that he will do well on tour.
“It was unbelievable really. I knew he was a nice lad but had never seen him play before. He was fantastic,” Selby said.
Eltahhan, who is the only African player on tour, scored three half-centuries and was thrilled with his display.
“He is the man to beat,” Eltahhan said. “He is the world champion and the world number one. I settled quite quickly but he put me under pressure.”
There were convincing wins for world number nine Mark Allen and world number 22 Joe Perry in the evening session.
Northern Ireland’s Allen beat German rookie Lukas Kleckers 6-2, while Perry matched the highest break of the event so far, with a magnificent 137 on the way to a 6-1 win over Billy Castle.
Perry’s break equalled world number two Judd Trump’s score during his stylish 6-0 win over Australia’s Matthew Bolton at the York Barbican.
Former winners cruise through
Perry, the 2011 UK champion, hit 137 to take a 4-0 mid-session lead and wasted no time in getting over the line.
“I felt good and I felt sharp,” the 28-year-old Bristolian told BBC Sport.
Another former champion, Shaun Murphy, beat Pakistan’s Hamza Akbar 6-1, sealing victory with a brilliant 129 break.
Nottingham-based world number six Murphy lost the opening frame to an opponent who is 122 places below him in the rankings, but then reeled off four half-centuries and a ton to take control of the match.
In the morning session, Belgium’s world number 13 Luca Brecel and Scotland’s Anthony McGill both progressed.
Brecel, who won his maiden ranking event in August, rattled off four breaks of 50-plus in securing a rapid 6-4 win over Iran’s Soheil Vahedi.
World number 17 McGill, 26, easily saw off local potter Ashley Hugill, scoring three centuries along with breaks of 84 and 66 to beat the 23-year-old 6-2.
There were also wins for England’s Ricky Walden, who beat Duane Jones 6-1, and Iran’s Hossein Vafaei, who was a 6-4 victor over Thai veteran James Wattana.