World number four Matthew Stevens became the highest-ranked casualty of the Travis Perkins UK Championship so far when trounced 9-3 by Stuart Bingham in York today.
The Welshman, winner of the title in 2003 and runner-up at this year’s World Championship, resumed the second-round match 5-3 down and failed to take another frame as his in-form opponent completed victory helped by breaks of 56, 68 and 70 to add to the 97 and 95 he compiled yesterday.
Also beaten in his opening match at the Grand Prix in October, the defeat was symptomatic of Stevens’ notorious inconsistency for it seems he either makes a rapid exit or reaches the final in every tournament he contests.
But he certainly came up against a player at the pinnacle of his game as Bingham recently won the qualifying event to gain the single spot available at next year’s Masters and had hammered Robert Milkins in his first-round match at the Barbican Centre.
“I started brilliantly and should have been 7-1 ahead,” said the world number 37 from Basildon, who could meet practice partner Mark Davis in the last 16.
“But 9-3 is an unbelievable result. Matthew told me I am playing well enough to win the tournament and to go and do that.
“My level has gone up a step recently and I even have a good ’bad’ game to fall back on now because if I am not potting well then my safety is up to scratch. My whole game is clicking.
“I’ve never been here for the TV stages before so that will be a new experience for me.”
The Welsh did have some good news, however, as former world number one Mark Williams arrested his slide with a comprehensive 9-2 drubbing of Michael Holt.
It may not have been up with the best performances the 2000 and 2003 world champion has ever produced but it was a significant step in the right direction as he rattled in knocks of 110, 99, 91 and four other half-centuries.
“I’m just over the moon to have got a win to take some pressure off myself,” said the Cardiff-based 30-year-old.
“I needed one really badly because if I had lost my first match again I probably would have found myself out of the world’s top 32 at the end of the season.
“It wasn’t the Mark Williams of old but I played 100% better than I have been. I think it was the first match for about 18 months in which I made three breaks over 50. But I won’t get carried away – I still have to improve and build on this.”
In the morning session, Jimmy White left himself in danger of failing to win a frame at this tournament for the second consecutive year.
’The Whirlwind’ withdrew due to illness in 2004 when 7-0 down to Ali Carter and today was whitewashed by Ding Junhui in their opening eight-frame stint, leaving the 18-year-old Chinese sensation needing only one more tonight to secure a third-round match against Paul Hunter.
But another veteran, Steve Davis, fared much better in his battle of the generations with 19-year-old world amateur champion Mark Allen, the ’Nugget’ edging into a 5-3 lead, while Australia’s Neil Robertson was ahead by the same score against Stephen Lee.