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Allen feels confident for UK Championship defence



Mark Allen also won the Champion of Champions invitation event in 2020

Mark Allen says he will begin the defence of his UK Championship title in a positive frame of mind after winning the Champion of Champions tournament.

The Northern Irishman beat Judd Trump 10-3 in Sunday’s final in Bolton to win the event for the second time.

The 37-year-old world number four will play his first-round match in the UK Championship on Saturday.

“If I don’t get confidence from that I’m never going to get confidence,” said Allen of his most recent triumph.

Allen saw off Jimmy White and Ali Carter in the group stage of the Champion of Champions, before defeating John Higgins in the last four and then running out a convincing winner over in-form Trump.

His previous success in the tournament came in 2020, behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trump had already won the English Open, Wuhan Open and Northern Ireland Open this season.

In contrast, Allen’s victory signals a return to form following an indifferent start to the campaign which saw him battle against a “technical kink” in his game and struggle to recapture the performances which saw him pick up three titles and reach the semi-finals of the World Championship in 2022-23.

Win ‘shows where my game is at’

“I played really good stuff all week, I really enjoyed it and it’s nice to get a trophy again,” Allen told BBC Sport NI.

“It means a lot because it’s been a tough few months. I haven’t played my best stuff so far this season so it’s nice to be a winner again.

“I’ve had the odd good performance but all in all it hasn’t been good enough. It was sustained this week, it was much, much better. That’s the kind of form I need to have consistently if I’m going to win these tournaments regularly.

“Judd has been phenomenal this season, by far and away the best player, so to dismantle him the way I did in that final shows me where my game is at.

“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve always had a good record against Judd but considering the run of form he has been in, to do that in a final against him under those conditions says a lot about where my game is and where my mental strength is.”

“After a good season last year I didn’t feel like I was backing it up but hopefully that will stand me in good stead for the rest of the tournaments coming up, which I’m looking forward to now.

“The UK Championship coming up, then the Masters coming up soon, so it would be nice to continue that form.”

‘I always have belief in my ability’

Mark Allen
Allen produced a dramatic comeback to win the 2022 UK Championship final

Allen awaits the identity of his first-round opponent for the UK Championship at York as he bids to repeat his dramatic success of 12 months ago when he recovered from 6-1 down to beat Ding Junhui 10-7 in the final.

“If I can play the way I did last week then I have a good chance. I feel much better than I did a few weeks ago. I’m going into York with positive thoughts and fond memories from last year,” he said.

“I feel I can get to number one [in the world rankings] if I keep winning tournaments and keep winning matches. That’s all that matters.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to be world number one and world champion.

“I felt like I got close last year [to winning the World Championship] without producing my best stuff and as long as I can keep playing well and winning, it will give me confidence going into Sheffield. I always have belief in my ability and that hasn’t changed.”

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