McLeod battles on but Wilson bows out
Rory McLeod said the prospect of a restless week on the sidelines helped him claw back a 3-0 deficit to overcome Jak Jones 6-3 in the Betway UK Championship first round.
Wellingborough’s McLeod has struggled for form this year, not making it past the first round of a ranking event since the Paul Hunter Classic in August, but he showed great persistence at the York Barbican.
He reacted superbly to 23-year-old Welshman Jones’ flying start and though he was made to wait until after the evening session had finished to see out his win, he did so in fine style.
The world number 53 admitted that at 3-0 he was in trouble, but with a second-round game against Marco Fu at the weekend in the pipeline, he can now relax.
“It is a big tournament and you just want to win the first match. It gave me about a 5 per cent confidence boost, I will go and work on the other 95%,” the 45-year-old explained.
“If you don’t win then you have the rest of the week going crazy, so winning the match is everything – you can have a good few days."
After fighting to claim the fourth frame, a half-century in the fifth saw him right back into contention, while a fine 108 break just as the afternoon session ended put him ahead for the first time at 4-3.
When they returned it was all McLeod, the Northamptonshire potter reeling off the two required frames to take him into round two of the UK Championship for the third time in four years.
And he claims his back-to-basics approach at 3-0 down was the foundation of his comeback.
He said: “It was well-needed and win is a win, I went 3-0 down and I was feeling the pain, but I just wanted to make the most of it with bread and butter shots and get off the mark.
“I felt terribly under pressure, coming into this I haven’t won a first-round match in the last few tournaments.”
Meanwhile, Kettering’s Kyren Wilson became the first giant to fall in York as he lost 6-3 to world No. 115 Mitchell Mann.
Mann signalled his intent with a 92 break in the first frame before moving 3-0 ahead.
Wilson battled back to 3-2 with a tough 68 in the frame five, but Mann found his form again and rattled off two frames of his own.
Despite a wobble in the eighth, a convincing 73 saw Mann over the line and sent world No.13 Wilson – a semi-finalist at the Northern Ireland Open last week – tumbling out at the first hurdle.
Follow the UK Championship LIVE on Eurosport with Colin Murray, Jimmy White, Neal Foulds and Ronnie O’Sullivan.