JOHN Higgins and Judd Trump arrived in York with contrasting confidence levels ahead of the Coral UK Championship – but both enjoyed good wins on Monday.
Trump rattled in three century breaks to smash through the 300 career ton barrier in reaching the fourth round and last 16.
The 2011 winner had runs of 129, 130 and then a final flourish of 104 at York’s Barbican Centre in a 6-3 win over Scotland’s Fraser Patrick.
World No11 Trump, 25, the reigning Australian Open champion, reached the milestone in the second frame with his first century of the contest.
He said: “I played pretty well at the start and after he dug in I made a good break at the end to win it.
“But I played very solidly through most of the match and I am full of confidence at the moment. Most aspects of my game were in good shape.
“I am really up for this event, and am looking to go as far as possible. I am targeting getting to the semi-final and then if I do that seeing where it takes me.”
Meanwhile Higgins claimed he could see some green shoots of recovery in his win over Matthew Stevens.
The three-time winner of the UK title has struggled for form in the past 18 months – but looked back in the groove in a 6-2 victory.
The 39-year-old Higgins, also a winner of four world titles, had breaks of 59, 81, 62, 128 and 52 in moving into the fourth round.
The contest against Stevens, also a former UK winner, was a repeat of the 1998 final when Higgins prevailed 10-6 – and the match-up seemed to bring back some good habits for the Scot.
“I am a lot happier with that than some of the recent matches, I was trying to get my timing back and it worked well most of the match,” said Higgins.
“There were two frames where I cleared up to win them, they were the turning points. If you are going to win events, they are the ones you have to win.
“Players will get breaks against you and that gets you going, I did it also against Jamie Cope in the last round. My confidence is improving.”
Ireland’s David Morris managed to follow up his big win over Mark Selby with another impressive victory against David Gilbert to equal last year’s run to the UK last 16.
Photograph by Monique Limbos