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Williams joins Higgins in quarter-finals

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Best shots as brilliant Luca Brecel beats Stephen Maguire

Two-time UK Championship winner Mark Williams survived a spirited challenge from world number 106 Liam Highfield to join three-time champion John Higgins in the quarter-finals.

Welshman Williams came from 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 down to clinch a gripping 6-5 win and set up a meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan on Friday.

Earlier, Wales’ Jamie Jones beat David Gilbert 6-2, while Scot Higgins saw off Mark Allen 6-3 to earn a last-eight tie with world number one Mark Selby in York.

Belgium’s Luca Brecel beat world number 19 Stephen Maguire 6-3.

Williams’ progress means Wales have two quarter-finalists in the UK Championship for the first time since he and Matthew Stevens in 2001.

Highfield showed impressive calmness and consistency against the 1999 and 2002 champion, but Williams kept in touch and held his nerve to close out victory in an error-strewn decider.

“I am just happy to get over the line,” said 41-year-old Williams. “I was so nervous. I was twitching all over the place at the end and so was he.

“I am looking forward to playing him [Ronnie]. It will be a great occasion. He is the best player to ever pick a cue up.”

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Welsh wonders

World number 39 Jones profited from some sloppy potting to go 3-0 up against Gilbert, but missed a simple red in frame four to give the world number 21 a boost prior to the interval.

Jones responded with a break of 96 and got the snooker he required as he won frame six on the black, before closing out victory.

The 28-year-old will play Hong Kong’s Marco Fu in Friday’s evening session.

In-form Higgins stays on track

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John Higgins won the UK Championship in 1998, 2000 and 2010

Higgins, 41, is one of the tour’s form men, winning both the China Championship and Champion of Champions in November.

But Northern Irishman Allen overturned a 2-0 deficit with breaks of 78, 105 and 65 to go ahead.

Higgins, a 28-time ranking event winner, levelled with a brilliant 101 and, after clinching a tense seventh frame, he closed out victory over the world number 10 with breaks of 68 and 90.

“I will need to play a lot better than I have this week to win the next match,” said world number four Higgins. “I felt good at 2-0. But for the next two or three frames my concentration went haywire. I left easy chances and he was feeding off that.

“I needed some help from Mark and I got it and that changed the game again.”

Higgins’ fellow Scot Maguire scored successive tons to tie the scores at 2-2 against world number 31 Brecel.

But the 21-year-old Belgian won three in a row, sealing victory with the help of a fluked red, to seal a quarter-final meeting with world number six Shaun Murphy.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/snooker/38176200