Neil Robertson dumped out of UK Championship by amateur John Astley

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German Masters 2020 - Day 5

Neil Robertson went into the event as one of the favourites (Picture: Getty Images)

Another big name has fallen to an amateur player in the first round of the UK Championship, with defending champion Neil Robertson heavily beaten 6-2 by John Astley in York.

The Australian arrived at the Barbican as one of the favourites to lift the trophy after winning the title for a third time last year and having also won the English Open earlier this month.

However, the 32-year-old from Gateshead was the better player on Thursday afternoon, with the world number four struggling to find anything like his best form.

The Englishman took the first frame with a break of 74 but things looked to be returning to normality when Robertson won a tight second frame.

However, Astley took the next three on the spin, opening a 4-1 lead with an impressive break of 83.

John Astley picked up the biggest win of his career (Picture: WST)

The Thunder from Down Under finally showed his class with an excellent break of 124 to go back within two, but Astley proved his own class as he responded with a 119 of his own to go one frame from victory.

It was a drawn out final frame, with the underdog taking a decent lead before Robertson tried to battle back from needing a snooker. He got one, but Astley got over the line to claim a famous victory.

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Incredibly, the last time Robertson came to the UK Championship as defending champion, in 2016, he lost to an amateur player in the first round as well, beatedn 6-3 by Peter Lines.

Astley has had two spells on the pro tour in the past, with this being his seventh appearance at the UK Championship, although it is only his second win in the tournament.

He won one match on debut way back in 2013, beating another former world champion in Ken Doherty in the first round.

His best run in a pro tournament came at the 2016 Riga Masters when he beat Joe Perry, Andy Hicks and Jimmy Robertson to make the quarter-finals before losing to Mark Williams.

Astley now goes on to face Mark Joyce in the last 64 and will be full of confidence after his victory over the defending champion.

Victories for amateurs are becoming the story of the UK Championship so far after Shaun Murphy was downed 6-5 by Si Jiahui on Tuesday and criticised their inclusion in the tournament.

Robertson, ironically, backed Murphy’s comments, agreeing with him that amateurs should not be competing in professional events.

‘I totally get where Shaun’s coming from,’ Robertson told the BBC. ‘When you’re playing one of the Chinese boys, some of them are amateurs, but some are as good as anybody in the top 50 in the world.

‘Amateurs are under a completely different pressure where there’s actually no pressure, because they’re not competing for ranking points.

‘They’re basically on a free hit at a pro, so I completely agree with what Shaun’s saying there, because it is very dangerous.’


MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan tells Shaun Murphy to ‘go and get a job’ because he’s ‘in bits’


MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan offers ‘free of charge help’ to Michael White after UK Championship win

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