Mark Allen - Ding Junhui
Thanks for your company
That'll do us for this evening, we'll be back soon as the Home Nations series continues with the Scottish Open from 28 November. Take care out there until then, night night.
Allen 2.0: From a spiralling personal life to snooker’s in-form player
Mark takes the trophy, the acclaim, and the cheque for 250 large due to the winner. He's now amassing quite a CV - he's won his home tournament, the Northern Ireland Open, twice, plus the Tour Championship, the Champion of Champions and the Masters in his career and this is his eighth ranking event title. There's a different focus about his game now, and he's reinvented himself this season to devastating effect on the baize.
He's gracious in victory, calling Ding a legend, but reveals how confident he felt back in his dressing room after levelling the match at the interval. I'll say he is; in the last three ranking events he's been in every final, winning two of them. After previously losing two UK finals this is a massive moment for him, and he now has two thirds of the Triple Crown. If he can keep this form up until the Worlds in April, what price the full set?
What a comeback
My stars, that is quite something. Mark Allen was 6-1 down earlier today, but rattled off nine of the next ten frames to win the title. That's just a stunning turnaround. Ding, in his interview with Hazel Irvine, looks gutted and rightly so. He's had a great week - class is permanent - but he's been overwhelmed out there tonight and it'll take a while to shake off this loss.
Allen 10-7 Ding
Yellow to green is awkward but Mark pots the former to give himself a shot at the latter. He clips it in expertly with the rest, and he's right on the brown! That goes, as does the blue, and when he pots frame ball pink to the bottom right Mark does the Henmania fist pump in celebration! He's the UK champion for the first time in his career!
Allen 9-7 Ding (40-43)
It's not an easy clearance at all, and Mark only gets red-black through it before missing a red along the rail to the bottom right and leaving it there. Ding picks it off but lands awkwardly on the black, and can't covert it. Has he left a plant on the final two reds? Oh my, he has! Mark drives it in, pots the pink, mops up the final red and then dispatches the black. Here's his opportunity, as he heads up for the yellow. The green, near the upper right rail, is Ding's only out now.
Allen 9-7 Ding (17-42)
In the 42nd minute of the frame Ding pokes a red out over the bottom right. Mark snaffles it, but can't hold for the pink. It's a slow grind, and Ding won't mind at all that Mark's rhythm has been thoroughly disrupted. Is this a chance though? Ding misses a thin contact safety completely, giving away four, and although he makes it at the second attempt he's left a red to bottom right. This is a chance.
Allen 9-7 Ding (12-42)
It's achingly tense in the Barbican, with all five reds near the bottom cushion and lots of delicate safety shots on the go. Ding lightens the mood with a touch of banter, suggesting that Mark attempt a five ball plant with his next shot. Both chuckle, and it's a nice moment between the two. Ding goes in-off later in the exchange - the first points in what feels like an eternity - but all the reds are safe and on we go.
Allen 9-7 Ding (8-42)
Mark cracks first in the long safety exchange that follows, eventually failing to return the white to baulk and leaving a red to the bottom right. Ding is in, and if he can open up a cluster of reds that are gathered near the bottom cushion he's got a chance to win this in one visit. Finding the angle to go at them is elusive though - he turned down the chance off the blue after his first red of this break - and he eventually overshoots position off the pink and it nixes his efforts on 27.
Allen 9-7 Ding (8-15)
What a brave shot this is from Ding. It's a mess of a table, but through the chaos he deadweights a red into the bottom left and drops delicately on the black along the bottom rail. That goes into the bottom left, but in potting his next red he smacks into the green in baulk and lands right in the middle of nowhere. This already feels like it's going to be a long haul of a frame.
Allen 9-7 Ding (8-6)
Has Ding got anything left here? It's been such an odd final; he's not collapsed with a blizzard of missed pots tonight, but he has been a passenger in this session as Mark has dominated and mostly kept him frozen off the table. It doesn't look like he's in the mood to go home wondering though, as he drains a brilliant long red to the green pocket and holds for the blue to get frame 17 going. It goes badly wrong after said blue though, as he misses a red to the bottom right. Mark has an easy starter, but pink and black are out of commission. Only an audacious three ball plant keeps him going, before he tucks Ding in all kinds of bother behind the brown. Ding escapes, leaves a red on, and Mark pots it but fails to land on a colour. This is tense stuff.
Allen 9-7 Ding
Ding pots a pink but not the black to follow, and concedes. Mark, having won eight of the last nine, is just one frame from the title. It's been an extraordinary run, and turning this tide looks a Herculean task for Ding from here.
Allen 8-7 Ding (74-0)
A tense safety exchange ensues, and this feels like a big moment in this final. It's eventually won by Mark, who forces Ding to short one and picks off a red into the bottom left thereafter. With the black tied up a short volley of red-pinks will do this, and he duly nudges himself 68 ahead with 67 on. Another pink surely seals it, as Ding returns to the table needing four snookers.
Allen 8-7 Ding (42-0)
This could be a let-off Ding needs, as Mark needs to pot a good recovery blue to the green pocket to keep going. He makes the pot, but position on the next red doesn't come with it and it's end of break.
Allen 8-7 Ding (22-0)
Mark fires back at the start of frame 16, dropping a red into the right middle to hold for the black. It's a chance, and a nice, glancing contact on the pack when potting a red to land on the black immediately turns this into a chance for a big visit.
Allen 8-7 Ding
Oh boy, did he need that! Ding clears up to the pink for a 105 that, given the pressure he's been under, is quite magnificent. An effort and then some.
Allen 8-6 Ding (0-68)
Ding holds his nerve superbly, and reaches 39 by driving the pink into the left middle and splitting open a cluster of reds. That should be the frame, and it soon is; he can let his arm go a bit now, as he finally halts the relentless run of frames against him.
Allen 8-6 Ding (0-30)
He's going through it alright. Ding only makes 12, his break over as he plays a poor shot on the black and fails to land on his next red. In frustration he bangs his cue on the floor. Here comes chance three though - Mark has left a red over the bottom left, and Ding picks it off from distance. The black follows, and these reds are nicely set; if we're to have a contest for the remainder of this final, you'd think Ding needs to register a sizeable contribution here.
Allen 8-6 Ding (0-10)
Ding's highest break tonight has been 33 in the opening frame of the evening. A poor shot selection cost him that one, and he's been hit by a barrage since. He needs to get in and score, somehow, and here's his chance; Mark misses a cut to the green pocket and he's left a chance. Ding picks off a red with the rest, but he's struggling for position and composure right now and makes only nine as a tame blue to yellow pocket rattles out of the jaws. Will this get him going though? He's doubled a red into the left middle, and he's in again.
Allen 8-6 Ding
What a flourish; a superb 109 from Mark, and he's two away from the title!
Allen 7-6 Ding (64-0)
Mark lands on slightly the wrong side of the blue, but pots it to go 63 up with 59 on. The next red is hammered in from mid-range, and it's academic now; it's going to be seven in a row, and what a show of moxie from him. Mark is in total command here, and Ding is in real bother here.
Allen 7-6 Ding (50-0)
It's a barrage tonight from Mark, as he chalks up another half-century. He looks calm and focused here, his technique between frames of closing his eyes and visualising storied comebacks he's made in the past clearly paying off big time. The black has been tied up right through this break so the white is doing some work to get on blue and pink, but his positional play has been excellent so far.
Allen 7-6 Ding (18-0)
Mark gets the first red of frame fourteen down, before tucking Ding in tight behind the brown. This is trouble, and although Ding escapes via two cushions he’s left a simple red to the bottom left. This is a slowly unfolding nightmare for him; Mark is not shy about cashing in though, as he shouldn't be. A smart shot when potting pink to bottom left and flowering open the pack opens the frame right up, and it's a big chance to score heavy.
Allen 7-6 Ding
One red and black from Ding lands him on the final red, and he looks for the snooker he needs. Mark flukes one of his own though, and when Ding clips it in his escape the white trundles into the bottom right. Ding concedes and, incredibly, wins his sixth frame on the bike to take the lead in this final!
Allen 6-6 Ding (69-22)
Ding lands in an awkward position with the white tight on the right rail, and opts to take on a tough cut on a red to left middle. It's close, but out off the top knuckle; Mark has a look at a mid-ranger, and drives it into the bottom right. The blue to follow means Ding needs a snooker to tie as he returns to the table.
Allen 6-6 Ding (63-8)
Mark misses a red to the bottom left, and it sits up over the left middle. Ding clips it in, but then turns down a difficult blue and plays safe off the black. It's cautious, and he might want that shot again now; both players then miss long reds with their next shot, but Ding's is costly as it leaves a mid-ranger to the yellow pocket. Mark can't make it though, hampered by leaning over a red that his waistcoat is perilously close to. Nerves are jangling a bit here, and when Mark misses a thin red to the bottom right he can't get the white back to baulk, and Ding is in.
Allen 6-6 Ding (63-0)
This is such a precise break from Mark, as the reds are scattered and only have narrow tunnels through to them between the pink and black spot. Mark is landing the white to the thou of an inch, as yet another half-century tonight goes up on the board. Eventually position deserts him though as he doesn't run far enough when running the white through off two cushions after potting the black. He's on nish, and sends the white back to baulk to end his break on 59.
Allen 6-6 Ding (25-0)
We're back, and what a denouement we might have now. Ding has seen a 6-1 lead evaporate here, but has to put that out of his mind and get a foothold in this session. He gives away four early on after missing a narrow two-cushion safety to land on a red, and after being landed in another troublesome position soon after gifts Mark an easy starter. Mark's away again, and finds a lovely recovery cut on a red to left middle after a kick when potting the preceding blue threw him out of position. It's a chance.
Allen 6-6 Ding
Mark pots the green and brown, and leaves the blue in the jaws of the yellow pocket. Ding has no option to pot it, and will need two snookers on the pink. They won't be coming; Mark tags the pink long into the yellow pocket, and he's levelled up this final!
What a turnaround here. I'd suggest you brew up, because we'll be back in 15 minutes for a best of seven for the title.
Allen 5-6 Ding (63-43)
This is quite something. Ding lands the yellow so close to the green near the yellow pocket that Mark has no option other than to glance it, and he clips green first and brings both balls out! Can Ding dish and win a sensational frame here? No! He's hampered on the green and misses a tough cut to its own pocket, and he's left the frame on for Mark! This is some drama.
Allen 5-6 Ding (63-37)
What a mountain this is for Ding. He takes two reds and blacks when he gets the chance, and after a few good efforts forces a miss from Mark after trapping him behind the black. All of a sudden, it's a different frame. Another red-black from Ding soon follows, before he finds a superb snooker in behind the green in the jaws of the yellow pocket. What an effort this is from him! Mark tries to escape but slides past the yellow, to safety. From a seemingly doomed position, Ding can now win the frame!
Allen 5-6 Ding (63-5)
Ding breaks a run of 53 minutes without a pot as he drains a superb long red, but can't force position on the black. Safety ensues, and Ding lands Mark in all sorts of bother with two reds over the bottom right that he can't see. Mark tries an audacious swerve shot but the target red won't drop; amazingly, the white hangs in the jaws and Ding is on nothing. Moments later, the frame is served up, as Ding leaves a red over the bottom left. Mark drops that in, followed by the blue and another red, and Ding needs snookers.
Allen 5-6 Ding (56-4)
Mark has been sensational tonight, and puts another half-century in the books. He'll not want the interval here, whereas Ding will be all about it. Hello though, what's this? Mark loses position slightly and has to thin cut a red into the bottom left; it goes, but he dumps the white straight into the left middle! With ball in hand Ding can't make a plant as a shot to nothing, but he's still in the frame.
Allen 5-6 Ding (23-0)
Ding has watched Mark accumulate 300 points without reply; in the final frame before the interval he throws the cue at a red long to the bottom right, and it misses by a huge margin. Mark drives in a red from mid-range, and he's off and running again. He nearly goes in-off in the right middle early in this break, but everything is running his way and he's on the blue.
Allen 5-6 Ding
Mark almost loses position after landing the wrong side of the blue, but recovers to drop in a deft red from mid-range and a cut back on the black where he judges a canon into another red perfectly to retain position. A black to take him to 71 puts the frame to bed, and he eventually empties the table for a magnificent 132 to win his fourth frame in a row. Mark is flying right now, and we've got a serious final on our hands here.
Allen 4-6 Ding (50-0)
Mark goes into the pack off the black, and how's your luck? Pretty good, as the reds split nicely and there's a red on to the left middle. He's turned this chance into another half-century so far, and the frame is at his mercy.
Allen 4-6 Ding (21-0)
Ding takes on a long red to the bottom right at the start of frame eleven. It misses, and Ding catches another red on the way back up the table to serve Mark a chance. A black goes in - just - as Mark rolls it along the cushion and in to the bottom left, and he's manufactured a decent chance very quickly.
Allen 4-6 Ding
This is mightily impressive from Mark, who wins his third frame on the spin with a rhythmic 93; only a missed red long to the green pocket nixes the century. That plant Ding switched to in the opening frame of the night is looking a poorer choice by the second.
Allen 3-6 Ding (55-0)
Ding's lead looks like it's going to be reduced again here, as a black takes Mark to a half-century. I'd wager that we'll get the full ton here, because the remaining seven reds are all in the wide open. Traversing the winning line looks a nailed-on certainty beforehand.
Allen 3-6 Ding (27-0)
Mark looks to be in a fearless mood tonight, and drains another long red to set up a chance in frame ten. He gets the black back on its spot quickly, and a deft canon into the bunch has split the reds beautifully. All the momentum is with Mark at the moment, and he's motoring through the early stages of this break.
Allen 3-6 Ding
Mark's got it now! He trundles it along the cushion and into the bottom left, a stunning pot, before landing Ding in a snooker. Ding also needs a snooker to win, so he's got a plate full here. Ding escapes but within a few shots leaves the yellow on, and Mark clears to the blue to peg back another one.
Allen 2-6 Ding (61-33)
It's a difficult table, but Mark expertly picks off the reds close to the left rail and bottom cushion to reach 61. He's on the final red - frame ball no less - but misses it along the bottom cushion and to the bottom right. It's gone safe, but Ding's still right in this.
Allen 2-6 Ding (29-33)
After a few minutes of safety, Mark lands a shot to nothing to the bottom right and then tucks Ding in behind the green. It looks a world of trouble, but Ding pulls off a superb, glancing two-cushion escape. Mark's in now though, as Ding gambles the lot on a red long to the bottom left, and he's missed it. Mark starts compiling a break, and cops an outrageous slice when he glances one red in off another accidentally. It's an edgy break so far, but it's still trucking.
Allen 2-6 Ding (0-33)
A strange shot selection here from Ding, as he takes on a plant to the left middle even though there's an easy red just above the black. He makes it, but from his following shot fails to land on a red after potting the black. That's end of break on 33, and Ding may come to regret that if Mark gets in next.
Allen 2-6 Ding (0-17)
Mark could use a quick start but doesn't get one, as he misses a red long to the bottom right and leaves one on to the same pocket. Ding picks it off with the rest, drains a nice blue to take the white in and out of baulk, and he's off.
Our MC Rob Walker gets it popping, as both players are introduced for this evening session. Ding needs four and Mark needs eight; one of the biggest and most prestigious titles in the game is on the line here. Eyes down then, let's get tucked in.
The comeback kid
It was a miserable afternoon for Mark, but he did nick the last frame of the session and can really make a final of it if he wins the first mini-session tonight. It’s not the first time he’s been behind in the tournament either, having recovered from 4-2 down to Sam Craigie and 5-3 to Jack Lisowski to win.
The front runner
If Ding can see this through, he’ll win his fourth UK title; only Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan can better that. When he won it for the first time in 2005 he was just 18 years old. He’s tumbled down the rankings in recent times, but victory here could spark a second act in his career.
Welcome back to live coverage of the final of the UK Championship, where Ding Junhui holds a commanding lead over Mark Allen. We’ll have the boys re-baized in around 15 minutes.
That's us done for the afternoon
Join us again at 6.45pm GMT for the staggering denouement!
Allen 2-6 Ding
Well done Mark Allen, who stops the rot of consecutive frames won at four with a run of 79, by far his highest break of the match; very well done Ding Junhui, who needs just four of tonight's potential 11 to win a fourth UK Championships.
Allen 1-6 Ding (37-0)
An error from Ding leaves the white in the middle of the table ... but somehow, leaves nothing. Mark, though, clips home a long one shortly afterwards and surely he has to take this chance.
Allen 1-6 Ding (7-0)
Ding goes in-off playing a safety designed to leave the white on the top cushion, then Mark takes one along one to right corner and misses by miles. He's in big trouble because Ding has one on to left-middle ... which he misses! I'm surprised to see that; can Mark capitalise? Er no, he can't get on a red off the yellow, an unlikely run of the balls forcing him to play safe.
Allen 1-6 Ding
There it is! A 102, and Ding is flying!
Allen 1-5 Ding (6-109)
A penultimate red clunked to left corner says aye, likewise an ultimate one poked down the side rail. Colours off their spots, to pink, and he's there.
Allen 1-5 Ding (6-70)
Mark will keep competing, but he knows he's done for, I'm sure. Can Ding make a third ton of the final?
Allen 1-5 Ding (6-33)
But not for long. Mark gets in, misses to left corner, and now Ding's in making hay. The reds are well enough spread so that 6-1 looks likelier than not.
Allen 1-5 Ding (0-24)
Mark misses a long red to right corner - he's now in the 60 percents for pot success, while Ding is at 95, away again, and about the black spot. But not for long, catching a red too thick as he digs into cluster off black, so we're back playing safety.
Allen 1-5 Ding
Ding wins the longest frame of the match on its last ball, and if Mark doesn't take the next two, he's all but finished!
Allen 1-4 Ding (53-60)
A mistake from Mark offers Ding the blue! And he's perfect to sink pink and get onto black!
Allen 1-4 Ding (53-49)
Might this be a turning point? Ding plays a dreadful shot on the brown - I can't really say what because I don't know what he was trying to do - but it's so close to the bag that Mark has to be careful with the pot and can't get position on the blue. He does fluke a snooker missing the pot, but Ding escapes and the chase for blue is on.
Allen 1-4 Ding (49-49)
Ach, Mark has to around the angles to get onto brown from green, and he cannons the black! He just cannot get going here, but another snooker means he's still in decent shape to take the frame; I say that, but can Ding see enough ball to cut home a pot? No, he plays to hit it on the way back down the table having come off black cush, and Mark taps the table in appreciation.
Allen 1-4 Ding (41-49)
Again, Ding hits second time, but he leaves it and Mark must clear from here.
Allen 1-4 Ding (32-49)
Mark works his way onto the final red but can't get the cannon he needs off the black, so lays a snooker instead. Ding goes with power to try and put distance between cue and object-ball - he hits second time, then Mark lays a different snooker.
Allen 1-4 Ding (14-49)
On 49, Ding runs out of position, and with two of the four remaining reds safe, he has a chance to send another likewise. But seduced by the prospect of a snooker behind the pink - it's close to the bottom cushion - he develops one instead, then Mark plays a gorgeous cut from centre to right corner and he really really needs to parlay this into something.
Allen 1-4 Ding (7-31)
Immediately, Ding's back in while, in co-comms, Dom notes that Mark's weight-loss has cost him some of his cue-power. Still, it doesn't matter much if he's sat on his pie-holder as he is now and, with a fair few loose reds, this looks a lot like 5-1.
Allen 1-4 Ding (7-7)
Ding leaves one to right corner and Mark drains it - he's been potting OK when given the chance, he just hasn't had much scope. And even now, he knocks the black safe ... then jawses a blue to the green you simply couldn't see him missing. So the Dragon gets away via the rest, sinks the missed blue ... and that's a lovely shot. He's in total command of this match while Allen's highest break so far is just 32. Ding, though, doesn't get position off the next red so it's back to baulk.
Allen 1-4 Ding
And now it's a second ton in two frames! A total clearance of 135! Ding was excellent in qualifying, form he carried through to the tournament proper, and if Mark can't win at least two of the remaining three frames this afternoon, he'll be almost out of this.
Allen 1-3 Ding (0-51)
Ding splits the pack nicely enough and he's grooving about the table beautifully again. This is his fourth break over 50 in four frames.
Allen 1-3 Ding (0-28)
Mark leaves one to left corner; Ding rolls it home very nicely indeed.His second red almost doesn't go down - on an older cloth it stays out, reckons Dominic in co-comms - but it drops, the next ball clears a route for the black to both corners, and already this is looking like 4-1.
We go again!
Allen 1-3 Ding
Yes he can! A run of 126 and, though Allen has done well to retrieve deficits over the last week, he won't want to give Ding any more of a lead than this. See you again in 15.
Allen 1-2 Ding (0-58)
It's been especially noticeable, this week and also this session, how often Ding's hitting the heart of he pocket. He's going to win this frame, and 3-1 is a fair reflection of how the players have played; he might actually have taken the mini-sesh 4-0. Can he convert this half to a ton?
Allen 1-2 Ding (0-43)
Yup, this is a typically clever and careful run - Ding is so confident at the moment, and with good reason.
Allen 1-2 Ding (0-15)
Ding wobbles one in left-corner's jaws, but when Mark tries to dolly it in off the side - the direct route to it is blocked - Ding, who's not potted for 34 minutes, taps in. There are a fair few loose balls about too, so this should be a decent contribution.
Allen 1-2 Ding
Mark clears to blue and that'll be a big relief for him. If he can rustle the final frame of the mini-sesh too, he'll really fancy himself because he's not played well yet.
Allen 0-2 Ding (59-36)
A poor shot from Ding allows Mark a go at the yellow to right corner, he clouts it home confidently, gets perfect position on the green, and that is surely frame over.
Allen 0-2 Ding (54-36)
But he misses the final red to the yellow pocket - I'm not sure there was a path for it past the yellow and down the hole - but then Ding misses it, but then Mark misses it! Gosh, neither man can put together enough consecutive good shots to win this frame, but when Ding offers yet another opportunity, Mark knocks home confidently. A cut-back black, a yellow, and it's 2-1 ... but instead, Mark knock the former safe.
Allen 0-2 Ding (40-36)
Mark misses a thin cut to right-middle, then Ding misses a blind cut and this is getting tense - both men are averaging over 30 seconds a shot. And it's now Mark at the table, with a decent chance to pilfer.
Allen 0-2 Ding (32-36)
So far so good, a red stuck to the side and close to the right bag eases down with lovely weight. There's nothing on thereafter, but he's back in the frame.
Allen 0-2 Ding (19-36)
But he wins a protracted safety exchange when a cannon allows him a go at a tight one to left-middle he drains it well, and this is how he's reached this stage: hanging in there then holding his nerve when he needs something good. Can he find similar here?
Allen 0-2 Ding (0-36)
There are now reds all over the show, as we pass 20 minutes since Mark potted a ball.
Allen 0-2 Ding (0-36)
Ding gets in again early in frame three and if Mark isn't careful, this match will run away from him; be run away away from him. Even when Ding plays a false shot, catching the jaws with a run-through red, he finds a fine recovery black, and Mark's only hope now is a poor split. And shonuff, a little rustle isn't enough, so Dings has a long think, then plays safe towards left corner - and given various loose reds, i'm not sure it'll belong before one of our chaps is back potting balls.
Allen 0-2 Ding
Allen will be rueing that yellow he took on. I guess he wanted full reward for that great starter, but he knew what could happen if he missed it, and it probably wasn't worth the risk. A run of 70, and Ding is two frames to the good.
Allen 0-1 Ding (14-47)
Yup yup, a flick here, a cannon there, and Ding's in pretty decent nick to go two in front.
Allen 0-1 Ding (14-25)
But another fine long ball, clipped to left corner, gets him away again ... but when he misses the yellow, he allows Ding to get away with a ball he knew was over the bag. There's still no much at which to go, but the table is more inviting than it was and he's a magician when it comes to zipping about the business end.
Allen 0-1 Ding (13-10)
It's Ding in first again, but when he runs out of position, his safety allows Mark to sink a fine starter to right corner. But he too runs out of position early doors, so it's back to baulk with the cluster tightly packed and no loose reds elsewhere.
Allen 0-1 Ding
Yup, as we suspected Ding looks the better player - though he made hard work of that.
Allen 0-0 Ding (44-67)
Ding misses the blue to left corner, Mark sinks it later on, and we have a bit of a chase until the pink goes to left-centre ... and Ding misses again. I didn't think he'd pass that one up, but when Mark narrowly misses a snooker, it's rolled along black cush and into the bag.
Allen 0-0 Ding (30-61)
A lovely touch-shot promotes a red off the side and it goes down next shot then, with 37 the difference and 35 on, another lovely pot on the final red somehow rolls in and out of right-middle. Mark drains it, then the blue, so he needs a snooker plus all the colours to tie.
Allen 0-0 Ding (24-41)
Ohhhh Ding is in touch!Ten points in front, he finds himself on a plant-cut to left corner, cueing towards the side-rail ... and drains it gorgeously! He'd have left plenty had he missed it but he didn't, follows it with a fine pink, rolled slowly to right corner, and he should close out the opener from here.
Allen 0-0 Ding (24-10)
After a protracted safety exchange, Mark clunks a fine long starter to left corner and begins accumulating. His split doesn't go as well as he's hoping, but there are still loose reds ... and somehow, he misses one of them, a simple one to left corner that he misses by a distance, catching it thick. I didn't see that coming - perhaps there was a heavy contact - but either way, Ding now has a chance he'll not have expected.
Allen 0-0 Ding (0-9)
Mark has a hack at a long starter to right corner off the break, misses by a way, and leaves one to the yeller pocket; Ding drains it, then a broon. But he slows too much on the next ball, so it looks like a safety will come next ... no, a green to right-middle followed by a red taken on with safety in mind; he gets nowhere near, so that error hasn't cost much anything significant.
And away we go!
Let's baize the boyz!
Ding reckons he's going to win
That's great to hear because previously, he's not always displayed the confidence that is the right of a player as good as he is. Allen, meanwhile, says he's fought for everything this week and explains that prior to his decider against Lisowski last night, he closed his eyes to visualise a clearance he made against Higgins, to make sure he stayed positive. On Ding, he says that he looks to be back, which is bad news for the rest of the tour, and though he's now the eighth-ranked Chinese player, everyone knows that he's still the best of them. If he wins tonight, he rises to 10th in the world, and will qualify for the Masters, kncking Yan Bingtao out of it.
I am buzzing for this
Two incredible, incredibly-watchable players, both of whom have played incredibly well to get here because they've had to play incredibly well to get here. Ding is just an artist, his grasp of angles and the route through a break second only to Ronnie O'Sullivan, likewise his cue-ball control. And Allen is almost as good in his dominance over the white - but also has the cue-power his adversary lacks. Ding is the better form, probably, and also the better B-game - he's going for a fourth title here - while Allen has a slightly tougher mentality and the ability to reel off frames in a hurry. I can't wait.
Hello and welcome to Eurosport's live coverage of the 2022 UK Championship final between Mark Allen and Ding Junhui.
Ding Junhui v Mark Allen (Eight frames played)
Ding Junhui v Mark Allen (Up to 11 frames played)
Ding Junhui 6-3 Tom Ford
Mark Allen 6-5 Jack Lisowski
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