Higgins edges Robbo thriller
John Higgins beat Neil Robertson 9-8 at the UK Championship but defending champion Shaun Murphy crashed out.
Last Updated: 15/12/09 1:04pm
World champion John Higgins came through a final frame decider with Neil Robertson to reach the quarter-finals of the Pukka Pies UK Championship but defending champion Shaun Murphy crashed out to Ding Junhui.
Higgins produced a nerveless break of 69 to complete a 9-8 victory over his Australian opponent, having squandered an 8-6 lead.
It was a thrilling encounter between two players who seem to bring the best out of each other - though it was tough on Robertson who suffered a moment of bad fortune in the 17th frame.
Higgins got in with an excellent long opener after Robertson missed a tough red to the right middle which seemed to be affected by a 'kick'.
The win was a relief for the Wishaw potter, who had led 4-1 before Robertson fought back to leave the match finely balanced at the end of the first session at 5-3 to the Scot.
The Melbourne left-hander opened the evening action with breaks of 127 and 78 to level things up, but Higgins again pulled away to lead 8-6.
The tension seemed to get the better of Higgins as a couple of careless errors allowed Robertson to come back yet again, but he came good at the vital moment to seal his progress with a gritty break.
The result was revenge for Higgins, who lost out to Robertson 6-5 in a classic semi-final of October's Grand Prix which went to down to the final black.
Murphy's title defence, meanwhile, was brought to an abrupt halt by Ding, who was in dominant form.
The Chinese cueman opened a 6-2 advantage in the opening session and needed just four frames when play resumed to complete a 9-3 scoreline.
Ronnie O'Sullivan also progressed from the last 16 with a 9-3 thrashing of fellow Englishman Peter Ebdon.
O'Sullivan had breaks of 113 and 118 to forge an early lead and then took advantage of a half-chance in frame four to claim his first century and move 4-0 up at the mid-session interval.
Ebdon took two of the next three frames, but O'Sullivan again showed his class with another century to go four clear again.
And O'Sullivan was never threatened in evening session, reeling off the three of the four frames contested to seal the result.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, world number two Stephen Maguire wasted little time booking his place in the last eight with a 9-3 win over Stuart Bingham.
Leading 6-2 from the first session, the Scot took three of the first four frames in the evening to ease through.
After taking a scrappy ninth frame, Maguire found form with a run of 103 to put him within one of victory.
Bingham pulled one back but it was merely delaying the inevitable as Maguire sealed his progress with a contribution of 58.
Veteran Leeds potter Peter Lines continued his surprise run with a 9-8 win in a tense match against two-time world champion Mark Williams.
Stephen Hendry, who described playing snooker as "torture" after his scrappy win against Steve Davis, continued to struggle as he lost 9-5 to Mark Selby.
Liang Wenbo needed only three frames in the evening to turn his 7-1 lead over Mark King into a 9-2 victory, while Ali Carter beat Stephen Lee 9-5.