The UK Snooker Championship got off to a blockbuster start on Saturday, at York Barbican, in a thrilling final-frame decider, with a “clinical” Ding Junhui knocking out defending champion Mark Allen in the first round.

The opening match was a repeat of last year’s final, which Allen won 10-7 after storming back from a 6-1 deficit.

Ding avenged this loss, despite revealing after the match that he was feeling unwell and had considered withdrawing from the match.

He secured a dramatic 6-5 result to give Allen his first-ever opening match loss at the UK Championship.

Eurosport pundit Ronnie O’Sullivan, who starts his campaign at the UK Championship on November 28, praised Ding but admitted he was “fortunate” to win.

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“If it’s not going well for him, he can look down and out,” O’Sullivan said. “But then if he starts to pot a few and gets involved in the game, he gets excited about playing again. So, it seems like he needs things to go his way for him to feel like he wants to win.

“But he’s such a talented player that he can get away with it. He’s quite fortunate to get through today. But when he did get his chance, he was clinical. One thing to say about Ding, he is probably the most clinical player out there.

“His positional play is so good. When you play like that, it’s very hard to play bad because this game is all about positioning,” Ronnie said.

Ding finished the deciding frame in style, registering a 102 clearance and knocking Allen out of the tournament. He will meet Tom Ford in the last 16, who pulled off a dramatic comeback against Noppon Saengkham.

The Thai player got off to an excellent start in the match, taking a 5-1 lead as he compiled three centuries.