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Page last updated at 23:30 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

O'Sullivan survives McLeod charge

Venue: Telford International Centre Date: Saturday 13 - Sunday 21 December
Coverage: BBC Television, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website

Rocket raspberry gets McLeod going

Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan survived a superb fightback from Rory McLeod to reach the second round of the UK Championship in Telford.

O'Sullivan rocketed into a 6-0 lead as he knocked in three centuries, but McLeod, the world number 44, produced breaks of 108 and 102 to trail 6-2.

He hit a third successive century, 131, on the resumption and won two more frames to reduce his deficit to 6-5.

But O'Sullivan won the 12th frame and a superb 70 clearance sealed a 9-6 win.

"I hate it when people say I'm a genius and I don't have to work hard at this game, because I do have to battle," said O'Sullivan, who is aiming for a fifth UK title.

"Any win for me at this stage of my career is a result. It was tough. Sometimes you just have to sit it out, and you feel as if it's not going to be your day. It would have been nice to win more easily.

If I play like I did today, someone will have to play some scary snooker to beat me

Graeme Dott
"Credit to Rory because at 6-0 down his head could have gone. In the end I could have been going home because it's all about form and his was stronger than mine."

The world champion will next meet Joe Perry, who had an easy passage into the second round after Mark Davis pulled out early in the second frame because of ill health.

The Sussex player, who has been suffering from a virus, was 1-0 down at the time, but the the result goes down as 9-0 to Perry.

"I've been up all night being sick and feel absolutely terrible," said Davis. "I tried to practise this morning but I had a lot of pain in my stomach."

Graeme Dott also advanced to the second round with a 9-4 victory over fellow former world champion Ken Doherty.

Dott had looked to be in control when he moved 5-0 ahead, with a top break of 120, but Doherty hit back to win the last three frames of the opening session.

A 127 break took him to 6-4, but that was the last frame the Dubliner won in the match as Dott, who has slipped to 48 in the world rankings, eased through to the last 16.

It was his first win in 10 ranking tournaments, a 16-month period that has also seen the Scot diagnosed with depression and break a bone in his left arm playing football which caused him to miss two events.

"It feels fantastic," said Dott, whose wife Elaine gave birth to their second child, a daughter called Lucy, last month.

"I've been working a bit on the mental side of things with my manager Pat Mooney, and it feels great to get the monkey off my back now.

"If I play like I did today, someone will have to play some scary snooker to beat me. Ken is the toughest draw I could have got but I played the best snooker I have played since the year (2006) I won the world title."

Doherty, who has also slipped out of the elite group, said: "I made one or two mistakes and they cost me, otherwise it would have been a lot close.

"I'm glad this year is over because it has been an annus horribilis for me professionally."

Resurgent Stevens reaches last 16

Matthew Stevens continued his resurgence as he came through an all-Welsh battle with Ryan Day, the 2003 UK champion winning 9-5.

Stevens, who reached the final of the Bahrain Championship last month, led 5-3 after the opening session.

But Day, up to number three in the provisional world rankings, levelled at 5-5 with breaks of 70 and 89.

Stevens, twice a World Championship runner-up, dominated from then on, rattling in breaks of 70, 54, 54 and 100 to progress.

Fellow Welshman Mark Williams leads world number four Mark Selby 5-3 overnight after reeling off four frames in a row from 3-1 down at the mid-session interval.

Five-time UK champion Stephen Hendry led Stephen Lee 5-3, Mark King was 5-3 up on youngster Judd Trump, and Barry Hawkins was leading by the same margin against Marco Fu.

First round draw:

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 9-6 Rory McLeod (Eng)
Joe Perry (Eng) 9-0 Mark Davis (Eng)
Marco Fu (HK) 3-5 Barry Hawkins (Eng)
Ryan Day (Wal) 5-9 Matthew Stevens (Wal)
Ali Carter (Eng) v Ian McCulloch (Eng)
Peter Ebdon (Eng) v Andrew Higginson (Eng)
Graeme Dott (Sco) 9-4 Ken Doherty (Ire)
Mark Selby (Eng) 3-5 Mark Williams (Wal)
Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Martin Gould (Eng)
Mark Allen (NI) v Stuart Bingham (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) 5-3 Judd Trump (Eng)
Stephen Hendry (Sco) 5-3 Stephen Lee (Eng)
John Higgins (Sco) v Joe Swail (NI)
Ding Junhui (Chn) v Steve Davis (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Michael Holt (Eng)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Jamie Burnett (Sco)

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see also
UK Championship - latest scores
13 Dec 08 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan primed for UK defence
10 Dec 08 |  Snooker
Welsh duo qualify for UK finals
08 Dec 08 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan 'cannot equal' Hendry
07 Dec 08 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan romps to UK final win
16 Dec 07 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
16 Sep 08 |  Snooker

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