SNOOKER; Ebdon eclipsed by Shokat's class

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The Independent Online
PETER EBDON described his performance at the Liverpool Victoria UK Championship in Bournemouth yesterday as "the worst of my professional career".

The 1995 UK finalist was fuming following a surprise 9-4 third-round defeat by the world No 69 Shokat Ali of Pakistan. "I don't think I could have played any worse had I tried," said Ebdon. "I probably would have done better if I'd tried to miss the balls deliberately. Shokat didn't have to play well to beat me and that makes it worse."

Ebdon added only one further frame to his overnight 5-3 deficit as Shokat moved forward to meet the Welsh left-hander Darren Morgan.

Shokat finished the match off with a break of 71 to go with earlier runs of 98, 85, and 99. Ebdon, the world No 13, said: "I thought my preparation was spot on for this tournament and it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. My safety play was appaling and I couldn't score when I had the opportunity."

For Shokat it was further proof that he has been right to adopt a more aggressive style of play. "I was always told `just play safe and wait for your chance'. But you can't play that type of game any more because everyone goes for their shots these days," he said.

"I was still playing an 80s game in the 1990s. I had to try so hard last season just to make a 50 break. But now I've got my fluency back," added the 29-year-old 1998 Asian Games gold medallist. "What I've got to do now is forget about this match and concentrate on the next one."

John Parrott narrowly avoided defeat against the veteran Joe Johnson. The 1991 World and UK champion came from 7-6 down to defeat his 47-year- old rival 9-7.

Dominic Dale's 145 clearance - the highest break in the UK Championship since 1995 - counted for little as he lost 9-4 to the Scotsman Drew Henry.