Snooker: King breaks first-round bogey at UK Championships
PUBLISHED: 07:57 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 07:57 29 November 2017
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The monkey is finally off Mark King's back at the Betway UK Championship and the veteran is now excited at the prospect of making some more memories in York over the next fortnight.
King had lost in the first round of the tournament for each of the past three seasons but broke that drought in some style – hammering Thailand’s Boonyarit Keattikun 6-0.
A break of 98 in the opener and 92 in the third frame were the highlights for the Romford cueman as he built on a promising run to the third round of the Northern Ireland Open last week.
The 43-year-old reached the semi-finals of the UK Championships in 2004 before beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 at the same event a year later, in a match where O’Sullivan draped a wet towel over his head every time King was at the table.
And for the first time since 2013, the world No.21 finally feels like he is a proper part of the tournament.
“I haven’t won a game here for the last three years, so it’s just nice to get a win under my belt, go home, recharge the batteries and come back for the weekend,” said King.
“If you get pumped first round, you get no money and it’s a crappy old time. Now I feel like I’m in the tournament and I’m not saying I can relax, because you can never relax, but I can enjoy it because I’ve won one.
“I feel like I’m hitting the ball well. In Ireland last week, when I lost to Yan Bingtao, it was the best I’ve felt and the best I was cueing but a couple of shots here and there made the difference.
“I’ve had some good memories here. I lost to Stephen Maguire in the semis and I beat Ronnie here with the old towel over the head a million years ago. I’d like to make some more.”
Having been a professional for 25 years before winning a maiden ranking event – the 2016 Northern Ireland Open – King entered a tournament as defending champion for the first time in Belfast last week.
And while he would love to win the UK Championship at the Barbican Centre in ten days’ time, he’s not convinced anything will compare to that magic moment 12 months ago.
“I enjoyed being reigning champion,” added King. “I gave it everything and it wasn’t meant to be but I enjoyed it. It was weird flying over there and thinking ‘I am the champion’ – I’d never done it before.
“It was exciting and nerve-wracking. A year has gone by and it has been brilliant, having that trophy at home.
“I’ve got some mental memories from Ireland and I don’t think anything can eclipse that. Even winning the Worlds wouldn’t eclipse that – it was the moment of my career.”
However there was less success for another Grove Snooker-based player as 23-year-old Sean O’Sullivan was outclassed by world No.15 Kyren Wilson, going down 6-1.
*Watch LIVE coverage of the UK Championship on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.