Maguire breezes into UK Championship second round

·2 min read
Stephen Maguire is bidding to lift the UK Championship trophy for the second time in his career, having been victorious in 2004
Stephen Maguire is bidding to lift the UK Championship trophy for the second time in his career, having been victorious in 2004

Former champion Stephen Maguire claimed he barely needed to get out of first gear to emphatically see off professional tour rookie Iulian Boiko 6-1 in the UK Championship first round.

The 39-year-old Glaswegian has plenty of pedigree at the first Triple Crown event of the season, having lifted the coveted trophy back in 2004 and twice finished as runner-up, most recently to Ding Junhui last year.

An opening tie against Ukraine youngster Boiko marked something of a step into the unknown for Maguire, who admitted he’d never seen the promising 15-year-old hit a ball before their enticing showdown at the Marshall Arena.

Boiko was awarded a two-year card on the World Snooker Tour after reaching the final of the WSF Open in January, but Maguire believes his progression to Round 2 was never really under threat from the get-go.

“I was well up for it because I didn’t know what to expect,” said Maguire, the world No.9. “I started off like a train and probably won the match in the first three frames.

“I played well before the interval. He didn’t really get much of a chance, but he looked disheartened after that.

“When we came back out after the break he was walking slowly as if to say ‘get me out of here’. That actually put me off a bit, because I knew it was just a matter of time. I lost my concentration a bit, but I’m just pleased to get through.”

Besides reaching the UK Championship showpiece, Maguire won the Tour Championship and the Six-red World Championship last season and is vying to build on some promising form that has seen him progress to Round 3 of both the European Masters and Northern Ireland Open so far this campaign.

While aware he is sure to face sterner tests than world No.123 Boiko, Maguire is relishing the opportunity to compete during such uncertain times, with the tournament having temporarily moved from York to Milton Keynes due to Covid-19 restrictions.

He added: “I played well last year, and played well in the final, [eventual winner] Ding was just too good on the day.

“I had a good run as soon as we got back playing earlier this year, but to be honest that’s all forgotten about now. All I can think about is the here and now.

“I think everyone loves York and it’s a nice time to go there around Christmas. I love it there, but at the end of the day it is what it is and this is better than having no UK Championship.”

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