Former winner Neil Robertson suffers another first-round exit at UK Championship

Three-time winner Neil Robertson crashed out of the UK Championship in the first round for the second year running after a 6-2 defeat to practice partner Joe Perry.

Perry raced into a 4-0 lead at York Barbican with the aid of breaks of 102, 85 and 68 as an out-of-sorts Robertson failed to score more than 23 points in any of the first four frames.

The world number two unsurprisingly spent time on the practice table at the mid-session interval and it paid dividends as he took the fifth frame with a break of 88, but Perry’s 81 in the next took him to the verge of victory.

Australian Robertson, who won the UK title in 2013, 2015 and 2020, took the seventh frame to keep the match alive but Perry deservedly sealed his place in the last 16 with a break of 64.

“I feel good,” Perry told Eurosport. “I played like that last week in the qualifiers but you never know if you’re going to produce that out there in the arena.

“After a bit of a shaky start I really found my game and played really nicely and enjoyed it.

“I could see he wasn’t 100 per cent today – he sounded like he had a stinking cold – but you can’t afford to let your guard down because he’s so good he can rattle a few frames off no matter how’s he feeling.

Joe Perry
Joe Perry beat three-time winner Neil Robertson in the first round of the UK Championship in York (Will Matthews/PA)

“It was important I took control and took advantage of his mistakes and I felt I did that quite well. Even when he was coming back at the end I stayed calm and pretty positive the whole way through.”

Belgium’s Luca Brecel, who lost to Zhao Xintong in last year’s final, also advanced to the second round with a hard-fought 6-4 win over Lyu Haotian.

A break of 124 helped Brecel take a 2-0 lead but he scored just one point in the next three frames as Lyu compiled breaks of 58, 97 and 79.

It was then Brecel’s turn to reel off three frames in a row and although another 79 break from Lyu kept the match alive, Brecel took the 10th frame to move into the last 16.

Brecel will go on to face Tom Ford after he caused another upset with a 6-4 win over former world champion John Higgins.

World number five Higgins had moved 3-2 in front, but Ford rallied with a clearance of 71 to edge ahead in the seventh frame.

Although Higgins came back to level at 4-4, Ford produced breaks of 99 and 90 to go through.

Sunday’s late match saw China’s Ding Junhui make a 600th career century in the fifth frame and also a 122 clearance as he defeated Barry Hawkins 6-3.