Snooker: Higgins prevails in first match back on British soil after ban

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The Independent Online

John Higgins made a winning return to competitive action in Britain yesterday with a 9-6 victory over Stephen Lee at the UK Championship in Telford.

The three-time world champion was making his first appearance on these shores since he was banned for six months in May for bringing the game into disrepute, despite being cleared following an investigation into claims of match-fixing.

The Scot had been level with Lee overnight, with the scored locked at 4-4 but, after trading the opening two frames, the 35-year-old forged ahead to set up a second-round meeting with Graeme Dott.

Dott secured his place in the next round after he reeled off six consecutive frames without reply to beat Martin Gould 9-5.

"It was good to be back playing in a BBC event again, it's a big tournament and one that I want to do well in," Higgins said.

World champion Neil Robertson completed his safe passage by wrapping up a 9-1 win over Rory McLeod yesterday morning.

The Australian needed just two more frames to progress when play resumed and he claimed them immediately thanks to breaks of 105 and 84.

"It's nice to get a good comfortable win, especially in a long event where you want to save something for the later stages," he said.

"I was happy with all parts of my game."