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Page last updated at 23:57 GMT, Sunday, 14 December 2008

Hendry & Selby sent crashing out

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Williams back in form to beat Selby

Five-time champion Stephen Hendry was sent crashing out in the first round of the Maplin UK Championship as Stephen Lee prevailed 9-7 in a tense contest.

The former world number one led 5-3 overnight and 6-4 but Lee levelled at 7-7 and won the two frames he needed.

World number four Mark Selby also fell at the first hurdle as a resurgent Mark Williams won another tight match 9-7.

The Welshman moved 7-3 up before Selby reeled off four frames to level, but Williams held his nerve to progress.

The two-time UK champion will face Graeme Dott in the second round, while Lee will face Mark King, who won a final-frame decider 9-8 against rising teenage star Judd Trump.

It's hard to pot balls when there's chaos inside my head

Stephen Hendry
Lee, 34, considered quitting snooker after his first-round exit at the World Championship earlier this year, but relished his win after a dip in form and results over recent seasons.

"I'm hitting the ball really well and it's just nice to be part of it," he told BBC Sport.

"I'm feeling quite good under pressure and it's just a matter of enjoying it again.

"To beat Stephen, I'm over the moon. Enjoyment is what it's all about. I wouldn't do it if I didn't like it. I would have probably found something else to do with myself."

Hendry, who has not won a ranking event for four years, was understandably dejected after his latest defeat, in which he scored just one point in the last two frames.

"It's hard to pot balls when there's chaos inside my head," said the Scot. "I know what causes it but I'm not going to tell you.

"The only positive thing from the match is that I played so badly but still only lost 9-7.

"People talk about how good the standard is. But if I got 30% of my old form back, I'd be competing. I only made one break over 70 and I made a lot of mistakes.

"Even if I'd played 5% better I would have won. I'm not going to say I'm playing well in practice because I'm bored of saying it."

I've been practising 11 or 12 hours a day and I've got some self-belief

Mark Williams
Williams, meanwhile, is battling to return to the elite top 16.

The Welshman appeared to be in control at 7-3 against Selby, but the Leicester cueman rattled in three centuries, including a 139, to get back on level terms.

But Williams showed his trademark calmness under pressure to win a scrappy 15th frame and then sealed victory in the next.

"It's an excellent win for me," said Williams. "Apart from Ronnie O'Sullivan who is out on his own, Mark is the next best player in the world. I didn't get a shot from 7-3 to 7-7.

"I've been practising 11 or 12 hours a day and I've got some self-belief. I need everything to click into place, including my head, then who knows how far I can go."

Honh Kong's Marco Fu came back from 5-3 down overnight to beat Barry Hawkins 9-6 and will play Welshman Matthew Stevens in the next round.

Scotland's Stephen Maguire, beaten in the final by Ronnie O'Sullivan last year, made a strong start to his opening match against Jamie Burnett of England.

Maguire led 6-2 at the end of the session, wrapping up his day's work with a break of 66.

That meant he was in a far more comfortable position than fellow Scot John Higgins, the 1998 and 2000 champion, who will resume on Monday tied at 4-4 with Northern Ireland's Joe Swail.

Australian Neil Robertson, winner of the recent Bahrain Championship, and Englishman Michael Holt also shared the first eight frames of their match.

Andrew Higginson gave himself a chance of causing a major shock when he opened up a 5-3 lead over 2006 UK champion Peter Ebdon at the end of their first session.

Mark Allen will resume with a 6-2 advantage over Stuart Bingham, while veteran Steve Davis stands at 4-4 in his contest against Ding Junhui, the 2005 winner.

Davis, 51, led 3-1 but then allowed Ding to move 4-3 in front before levelling up in a tight final frame of the evening. Ding made the top score of the evening session, a break of 130 in the seventh frame.

Shaun Murphy did not have everything his own way against Martin Gould, finishing the session with a 5-3 lead.

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see also
Welsh duo qualify for UK finals
08 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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