Higgins is shocked by Lee

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The Independent Online

John Higgins' defence of the UK Championship title was hanging by a thread yesterday after a nightmare opening session of his quarter-final against Stephen Lee.

The quarter-final line-up features the top eight in the world rankings and although Lee is officially bottom of that eight, Higgins singled him out as potentially the most dangerous opponent. And the Scot's claim that Lee is playing "probably as confidently as anyone at the moment" rang true as the 27-year-old stormed to a 7-1 lead, needing only two more frames to oust the champion.

There was little of sign of what was to come when the duo shared the first two frames, but Lee then edged ahead with a break of 119 and further contributions of 53, 73 and 52 extended his lead to 5-1. Higgins sat despondently after missing an easy red as Lee won a scrappy last two frames.

In the other quarter-final to get under way, Ireland's Ken Doherty was level at 4-4 with Matthew Stevens of Wales after the first session. Stevens was the only one to notch up a three-figure break, knocking in a 109, but Doherty had runs of 80 and 66 to his credit.

* Kelly Fisher won her fourth successive ranking tournament yesterday. Already holder of the British Open, Belgian Open and LG Cup titles, Fisher beat Lynette Horsburgh 4-1 to collect the UK Championship title in York.