Round Three of the 2019 UK Championship gets underway in York on Monday as a host of former champions and in-form underdogs aim to reach the latter stages.
The opening two rounds have laid claim to five of the world’s top 16 players, though a number of the usual suspects remain firmly in the running for the season’s first Triple Crown title.
Judd Trump remains favourite to secure a sensational annual Triple Crown, having already clinched The Masters and World Championship titles earlier this year, and the 2011 UK Champion now takes on veteran Nigel Bond.
Trump has dropped just one frame in his two victories en route to the Last 32, whitewashing Morocco’s Amine Amiri before thrashing Mei Xiwen 6-1, and looks to continue in the ruthless vein which has guided him to five ranking titles in 2019.
Bond, the world number 98, is the third lowest-ranked player left standing in the competition, having progressed to this stage for the first time since 2014.
The 54-year-old, who made his UK Championship debut 30 years ago, has battled through last-frame deciders against Luca Brecel and Louis Heathcote and will look to embroil Trump in a tactical show-down.
Two-time UK Champion Neil Robertson also faces a tough test against another of the sport’s seasoned campaigners as he meets former Northern Ireland Open winner Mark King.
Champion of Champions Robertson whitewashed Malta’s Alex Borg before overcoming Robbie Williams 6-4 and will be eyeing a marked improvement against the 2004 UK semi-finalist who whitewashed Lyu Haotian 6-1 in the last round.
Three-time champion John Higgins, who has dropped just one frame so far, looks to avert a potential scalp at the hands of world number 101 Ian Burns – who has already seen off Matthew Selt and Michael Holt.
Hong Kong ace Marco Fu, the 2008 runner-up, aims to continue the resurgent form which led him to victory over Kyren Wilson by overcoming China’s Li Hang.
Matthew Stevens, the 2003 UK Champion who knocked out Ryan Day in Round Two, takes on former German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton, while former Masters Champion Alan McManus aims to replicate his heroics in his comeback win over Barry Hawkins when he meets Norway’s Kurt Maflin.
Mark Allen, runner-up in 2011 and 2018, survived a scare from Jak Jones before progressing in a deciding frame on Saturday and now takes on Leicester’s Ben Woollaston.
Stuart Bingham, the 2015 World Champion, faces a tricky assignment against Chinese sensation Zhao Xintong in what promises to be a break-building masterclass, with the pair having produced five centuries between them so far.
The action gets underway from 1pm GMT, with Third Round matches to be contested over the best of 11 frames.
Betway UK Championship 2019 Match Schedule
Monday December 2
Li Hang v Marco Fu
Stuart Bingham v Zhao Xintong
Mark King v Neil Robertson
Nigel Bond v Judd Trump
John Higgins v Ian Burns
Matthew Stevens v Anthony Hamilton
Mark Allen v Ben Woollaston
Alan McManus v Kurt Maflin