The UK Championship takes place at York Barbican in November and Mark Selby will be hoping to improve on last year’s runner-up spot.
Victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan last year handed the 31-year-old his first World Championship title but he lost to Neil Robertson in the final of the UK Championship in York. The Leicester-born star won the title in 2012, defeating Shaun Murphy 10-6 in the final.
Australian-born Robertson was too good last year, however, with Selby falling to a 10-7 defeat, despite leading 5-1 and 6-3. And the 2014 World Champion also finished runner-up in World Open and Masters, losing to Murphy and O’Sullivan, respectively.
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Selby ended the 2013/14 season as World no.1 in the rankings and began the new season with victory in the Riga Open, defeating Mark Allen 4-3 in the final in Latvia. Robertson, meanwhile, picked up his first win of the season with victory in the 2014 Wuxi Classic.
‘The Melbourne Machine’ defeated Murphy and Barry Hawkins on his way to final and faced practice partner Joe Perry for the title. Trailing 3-0, the 32-year-old rallied to lead 8-6 before losing three straight frames and seemingly appearing on the verge of defeat.
The Thunder from Down Under produced another fight-back, however, winning the final two frames with breaks of 87 and 78 to win 10-9. He carried his good form into the his next tournament, the Australian Goldfields Open, and reached the final without any rival taking more than two frames off him.
Englishman Judd Trump, however, defeated the Aussie star 9-5, consigning Robertson to a second consecutive final defeat in the competition.
Trump, meanwhile, won the Uk Championship in 2012 but has fallen in the 1st and 4th round of the competition in the last two years. The 25-year-old failed to win a single rankings tournament last year, with his final appearance in the German Masters the closest the Juddernaut came to victory.
His Australian Goldfields Open success, however, will give the star some confidence to take into the UK Championship.
Another name to consider could be 2009 UK Championship winner Ding Junhui. The 27-year-old equalled Stephen Hendry’s 24-year record of winning five ranking tournaments in one year during the 2013/14 season.
Junhui was victorious in the Shanghai Masters, Indian Open, International Championship, German Masters and China Open. And The Star of the East also reached the final of the Welsh Open, losing to the Rocket, Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The Chinese star has also tasted success this year with victory in the ‘Asian Tour – Event 1’ defeating Michael Holt 4-2 in the final. If he can repeat the kind of form again this year he will be a formidable challenger to Selby and Robertson.
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