Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Walden wanders through

Ricky Walden assumed the role of this season's UK Championship surprise package.

An impressive performance scored him a 6-3 win against world number two Mark Williams as he wandered through to an unexpected place in the last eight.

Picture by Monique Limbos
The UK Championship has a habit of seeing non-top 16 players advance to the quarter finals. Last season it was Mark Joyce and the year before saw Peter Lines do the same.

The fact that Ricky was a member of the top 16 just earlier this year makes his run less of a surprise than the former two.

But still, it marks a welcomed return to form for a player who failed to kick on after breaking into the elite and has found it difficult to get going since dropping out.

Walden has arrived in York with a burst of confidence and a steely determination to get results.

Just last month he made his first professional maximum break at a PTC and appears to be spurred on by that achievement.

Following on from victory against Stephen Lee in round one, he raced into 3-0 lead against Williams before losing the next three to go back on level terms.

Walden managed to keep faith in his game, refused to change his tactics and took another three on the spin to clinch the match.

Beating a player of Williams' calibre at any major tournament is worthy of praise but I can't help feeling a lack of commitment at this season's PTC tournaments has cost the Welshman the sharpness he needed coming into this event.

His defeat does mean that both of last year's finalists have now been sent packing, after John Higgins lost to Stephen Maguire yesterday.

Walden shouldn't feel an ounce of sympathy because he deserves his win after finally dusting himself down from the disappointment of only a short stay in the top 16 and showing glimpses of his best again.

He'll remain an underdog now he's into the second half of the tournament but the former Shanghai Masters winner Walden has thrown tea rankings guide out the window before, of course.

What is a novelty for Walden is enjoying a decent run at one of the BBC tournaments. A lot of snooker fans know what a great player he is but this week he's showing plenty more.

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