Walden looks to Parrott as Higgins heads home

Ricky Walden has another big name in his sights after dumping out John Higgins for the second time in three tournaments at the Travis Perkins UK Championship in York.

Ricky Walden has another big name in his sights after dumping out John Higgins for the second time in three tournaments at the Travis Perkins UK Championship in York.

The world number 78, based in North Wales, is the only player to have got the better of Higgins this season having also beaten him at the Totesport Grand Prix in Preston last month.

In between, the 1998 world champion ended his three-year ranking title drought by winning the British Open in Brighton so it is not as though Walden has been capitalising on any lack of form for the Scot.

Now the 22-year-old turns his attention to John Parrott, who is showing signs of rediscovering his best form having comfortably seen off two of the game’s Far East contingent, James Wattana and Marco Fu.

“John is another ex-world champion and it will be brilliant to play him. I will be the underdog again but I will just enjoy it.

“I have a lot of respect for the top players but I like coming up against them and I don’t fear them because I have a lot of belief in myself.

“I was really pleased to cause another upset against John Higgins. It was better than my win over him in Preston because it was a longer match and the favourite usually wins them. I felt like I was cueing well but my heart was racing.”

Higgins acknowledged it was Walden’s excellence rather than his own failings that had brought about the shock result and he paid a glowing tribute to the youngster.

“I have no complaints about how I performed,” said the world number five before dashing home to join his wife Denise, who was six days overdue with their second child.

“I didn’t have much ‘run’ – maybe I had it all in Brighton – but I only missed one or two balls. Ricky is a great player. With the greatest respect he does not look like a player but he certainly is one. He scores very heavily and I wish him the best of luck in the next round.”

The third-round draw began to take shape ahead of today’s rest day with Stephen Lee and Peter Ebdon due to meet after they overcame Jim Michie and Robert Milkins respectively.

Graeme Dott, this year’s World Championship runner-up, secured an edgy 9-8 victory over Australia’s Neil Robertson and will face resurgent Andy Hicks.

Next opponent for maximum man David Gray could be seven times former world champion Stephen Hendry, while Alan McManus waits on the outcome of the clash between Mark Williams and Mark King.

Steve Davis scraped through a late-night epic 9-8 against Dominic Dale and will play Ronnie O’Sullivan if the world number one beats young Scottish star Stephen Maguire.

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