Johnston-Allen keeps beating the best

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Mark Johnston-Allen ended Steve Davis' British Open hopes in Plymouth yesterday, and then said: "I wish I'd played him a lot earlier in my career."

Johnston-Allen, who has three victories over the world No 1, Stephen Hendry, to his credit, reached the last 32 with a 5-2 success.

"I learned so much from Steve today," Johnston-Allen, ranked 49th, said. "I used to be glued to the television watching Steve in his heyday, but playing him live is so different. He has such a complete game, even though he missed a few shots that he may not have done in the past.

"I don't know why, but I always seem to raise my game against the top players. There's no pressure on you but there's so much to be gained."

Johnston-Allen, who now plays Anthony Hamilton for a place in the last 16, won the first two frames but Davis, winner of this title in 1986 and 1993, pulled a frame back with a break of 59. But Johnston-Allen then went 3-1 ahead by winning an important 38-minute fourth frame, which he sealed by potting blue and pink.

Davis, who lost out in a titanic struggle with Darren Morgan for the Irish Masters title on Sunday, closed again by winning the fifth frame with a break of 62. But Johnston-Allen restored his two-frame advantage and then wrapped up the match with breaks of 49 and 33.

"It was a brilliant feeling to knock those balls in at the end to beat someone I have hero-worshipped for so long," added the former public schoolboy.

Davis heads for the World Championship at The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, in a fortnight's time still seeking his first title of the season. "Mark did well to beat me and kept his mind on the job," said the six-times world champion. "I am a bit shattered after the final in Ireland but not too worried about my form.

"I have been a bit short of matchplay recently but believe that going to The Crucible brings out the best in you - it certainly should do."

Hendry had few problems in reaching the second round, brushing aside Terry Murphy's challenge 5-1 with breaks of 62, 80, 82, 83 and 60.

Hendry now plays Joe Swail, an opponent he has beaten and lost to within the last month.

Hendry's stablemate Nigel Bond, who lost in the World Championship final last year, knocked in breaks of 126 and 102 to beat New Zealand's Dene O'Kane and become the first player into the last 16.