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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 15:41 GMT
Hunter masters McManus

Double champion Paul Hunter
Hunter stayed on course for a successful defence
Paul Hunter's hopes of a third straight Wembley title are still alive - but Alan McManus made him fight all the way for a 6-4 win.

A 74 break gave Hunter the first frame, only for McManus to take the next three easily, notching breaks of 69 and 75.

Hunter drew level after the restart but the match looked destined to go the distance as neither man could take control.

An 85 break put McManus 4-3 ahead but he only scored one more point as Hunter rattled off three frames for victory.

The champion was happy with the manner in which he came back to win.

He said afterwards: "Alan's a tough player, but when I got in there I managed to score heavily and punish him.

"I wasn't going to give up."

Second round result: Paul Hunter (Eng) 6-4 Alan McManus (Sco)

John Higgins maintained his jinx over Steve Davis to book a quarter-final date with Mark Williams at the Benson and Hedges Masters.

The world number four was far from his best but profited from some good fortune to earn a flattering 6-2 victory.

It was his 20th win in 25 meetings with Davis, and his fourth of the season over the six times world champion.

I think John was a bit embarrassed by some of the luck he got

Steve Davis

Higgins enjoyed the run of the balls to open up a 3-0 lead before Davis rattled up a superb 86 break before the mid-session interval.

He followed it with 104 on the resumption - the only century of the match - before the Scotsman responded with an 87 for a 4-2 lead.

Davis looked poised to grab another frame from a seemingly lost position only for a double kiss to scupper his comeback in the fifth frame.

Another fluked red for Higgins at a crucial time in the eighth frame finally ended Davis' stubborn resistance.

"I was really, really fortunate," Higgins admitted afterwards. "I lost count of the number of flukes I had at important times.

"In general it wasn't too bad but I am definitely going to have to raise my game if I am going to beat Mark Williams."

Premier League standard

Davis, hoping to regain a place in the elite top 16 this season, remained upbeat despite tasting defeat in his last Masters appearance.

"I didn't make many more mistakes than John but mine were more costly," he noted.

"If you look at the top six as Premier League standard I'm playing very good Division One/lower Premier standard.

"But I can't complain. I'm giving people headaches."

Davis, 45, insists he has no plans to quit the game yet as he revels in his recent return to form.

"I don't practice a great deal compared to what I used to so I enjoy it more," he added.

"Perhaps 50 might be a natural time to stop but there's no reason to if you're still enjoying it."

Second-round result: J Higgins (Sco) 6-2 S Davis (Eng)

Ronnie O'Sullivan's next match is on Thursday against Ken Doherty, but he will have other things on his mind before then as he opens his lingerie shop on Wednesday.

The shop in Soho is being run by his girlfriend Jo, but O'Sullivan is keen to play an active role in running the business.

"We went to the fashion shows in Paris and will hopefully be going to London Fashion Week and Milan too," he said.

"Jo asks my opinions but the final decision is always hers - so if nobody likes the clothes, then it's her fault."

BBC Sport's Clive Everton
"Hunter did the business when I mattered most"
Hunter v McManus
Video highlights

Williams takes title

Masters history

Sport Academy

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