John Higgins made a winning return to competitive action in Britain today with a 9-6 victory over Stephen Lee at the UK Championship in Telford.
The three-time world champion was making his first appearance in England since he was banned for six months in May for bringing the game into disrepute, despite being cleared following an investigation into claims of match fixing.
The Scot had been level at 4-4 with Lee overnight but after trading the opening two frames the 35-year-old forged ahead to set up a second-round meeting with countryman Graeme Dott.
Dott secured his place in the next round as he reeled off six consecutive frames without reply to beat Martin Gould 9-5.
“It was good to be back playing in a BBC event again, it’s a big tournament and one that I want to do well in,” Higgins told www.worldsnooker.com
“Everyone has been fine with me and it’s enjoyable to be among the other players and doing what I love.
“It was good to play in the PTC events in Germany and Prague and get some matches under my belt but I knew I would still have to play well in the big tournaments.”
World champion Neil Robertson completed his safe passage by wrapping up a 9-1 win over Rory McLeod this morning.
The Australian needed just two more frames to progress when play resumed this morning and he claimed them immediately thanks to breaks of 105 and 84.
“It’s nice to get a good comfortable win, especially in a long event where you want to save something for the later stages,” he said.
“I was happy with all parts of my game.”
Peter Ebdon became the first seed to fall out of the draw as he was beaten 9-7 by Andrew Higginson.