Mark Allen admits he has not always seen eye to eye with Barry Hearn but that hasn’t stopped him hailing the ‘phenomenal job’ done by the outgoing World Snooker Tour chairman.
Hearn, 72, announced this week that he would be retiring after an 11-year spell at the helm Allen feels has ‘transformed’ the sport.
“I’ve always said he (Hearn) could sell snow to the Eskimos,” Allen said following his 10-2 first-round victory over Lyu Haotian at the Crucible.
“The difference in the number of tournaments in the calendar and the prize money is 100 per cent down to him.
“Ten years ago, six or seven tournaments a year was the norm – now we feel like proper snooker players.
“He’s always the most generous donator to charity events as well, and no-one sees that.”
Allen returns to the table on Saturday for a second-round clash likely to be against three-time world champion Mark Selby, who leads Kurt Maflin 8-1 going into this evening’s second session.
“Mark’s record speaks for itself and he tests every facet of your game,” Allen said.
“But I enjoy the challenge that brings and I’ve got a good record against him.
“It’s nice to win a match comfortably here – I’ll take it easy for a few days and let the other guys sweat it out.”
Tournament favourite Judd Trump completed his routine passage into the last 16 on Wednesday by overcoming Liam Highfield 10-4.
The world no.1 led 7-2 following a dominant first session and though Highfield made the highest break of the contest, an excellent 138, Trump eased through to set up a contest with David Gilbert.
Mark Williams will meet John Higgins in the last 16 after powering past Crucible debutant Sam Craigie 10-4 while four-time semi-finalist Barry Hawkins saw off Matthew Selt 10-3.
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