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Page last updated at 22:28 GMT, Monday, 10 January 2011

Graeme Dott beats John Higgins in Masters first round

THE MASTERS
Venue: Wembley Arena Date: 9-16 January Coverage: Live action & highlights on BBC Two and BBC Red Button; updates and reports on BBC Radio 5 live and live website coverage; watch again on iPlayer; full details of BBC coverage

Graeme Dott

Higgins' mistakes let in deadly Dott

By Mark Ashenden

Graeme Dott shocked world number one and fellow Scot John Higgins with a 6-4 win to secure only his second quarter-final spot at the Masters.

Dott, the 2006 world champion, led 2-0 with breaks of 115 and 65 but friend and playing partner Higgins levelled at 3-3 after knocks of 68, 55 and 73.

Higgins lost a mammoth seventh frame but hit back again before Dott kept his nerve to edge the next two for victory.

The "Pocket Dynamo" will play China's Ding Junhui who beat Mark Williams 6-4.

China's out-of-form world number four dominated the early stages of the afternoon match at Wembley to build up a 5-2 lead before Williams hit back to close to within one frame.

The rejuvenated Welshman, now ranked third in the world, had chances to take it to a last-frame decider but missed his opportunity as Ding stayed cool to clinch a hard-earned win.

The evening encounter had two gritty Scots, Higgins and Dott, renewing their battles at the baize and it was a match that had it all - great breaks, enthralling safety play, uncharacteristically swift break-building and no shortage of tension.

Higgins beat Dott 9-8 in the UK Championship second round en route to his memorable triumph in December, capping a highly successful comeback from a six-month ban.

606: DEBATE

Despite racking up 18 wins in 19 matches since returning to competition, Higgins revealed last week he felt "overawed by the Wembley atmosphere" and his opening two frames seemed to vindicate his concerns.

Dott knocked in breaks of 115 and 65 to lead 2-0 at lightning speed, but the three-time world champion finally sunk his first ball after 26 minutes on his way to a 68 break to pull a frame back.

The 33-year-old from Larkhall edged the next to lead 3-1, only to see Higgins, who last month recovered from 9-5 down to beat Mark Williams 10-9 to become UK champion, deliver more of the same fighting spirit after the interval with a 55 and 73 to level at 3-3.

As the free-flowing potting was replaced by more cautious safety play, it was Dott who came out on top after an almighty tussle in the seventh frame to get his nose in front at 4-3.

Back came the "Wizard of Wishaw" to bring the scores level at 4-4 but his recovery was surprisingly short-lived.

Dott came through the next frame, that lasted nearly half an hour, before a break of 62 proved enough to take him over the finish line after a three-hour battle.

Mark Williams lurdles the pink

Williams hurdles pink in Ding defeat

While Dott avoided an eighth defeat in nine years at this first-round stage of the Masters, Higgins failed to make the quarter-finals for an incredible 10th time.

"I never feel comfortable here, it's such a vast arena and I feel edgy on every shot," Higgins told World Snooker. "It's terrible because it's such a great tournament."

Dott, runner-up in last year's World Championship, said: "In the Championship League last week I was worse than diabolical, so I practised day and night after that to work on a few things, and today I was much better technically."

It was another shock which saw Higgins join two-time winner Mark Selby, world number seven Ali Carter and world number three Mark Williams in making an early exit inside the first two days of competition.

Monday had kicked off with the Ding and Williams clash and it was the Chinese superstar who took the first frame with a stunning 89.

The Welshman deftly drew level, but his 23-year-old opponent took the next three as both players stumbled though as their potting percentages dipped below 90%.

UK championship runner-up Williams edged Ding in the sixth - and most compelling - frame of the match to recover at 4-2 but Ding quickly moved to 5-2.

Undeterred, left-hander Williams bravely wrapped up the next two frames to keep his hopes alive but Ding, despite occasional lapses in concentration, came back from 47-0 down to take the match.


MASTERS FIRST ROUND DRAW/RESULTS:

Mark King 6-4 Mark Selby

Ali Carter 5-6 Peter Ebdon

Mark Williams 4-6 Ding Junhui

John Higgins 4-6 Graeme Dott

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Mark Allen (Tuesday from 1300 GMT)

Stephen Maguire v Marco Fu (Tuesday from 1900 GMT)

Neil Robertson v Stephen Hendry (Wednesday from 1330 GMT)

Shaun Murphy v Jamie Cope (Wednesday from 1900 GMT)



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see also
Higgins out to master Wembley woe
08 Jan 11 |  Snooker
Higgins proud of UK comeback win
13 Dec 10 |  Snooker
Williams hurdles pink in Ding defeat
10 Jan 11 |  Snooker
Masters scores and match schedule
16 Jan 11 |  Snooker
How does snooker's Hawk-Eye work?
10 Jan 11 |  Snooker
Masters handed sponsorship boost
29 Dec 10 |  Snooker
Selby targets third Masters win
23 Dec 10 |  Snooker
Ask the snooker experts
14 Jan 11 |  Snooker


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