John Higgins made to work for victory in first round of UK Championship
Last Updated: 02/12/12 7:46am
John Higgins: Beat Michael Holt in the opening round of the UK Championship
John Higgins began his bid for a fourth UK Championship title by grinding out a 6-3 win against Michael Holt in York.
The Scot, champion in 1998, 2000 and 2010, overcame a mid-match scare to eventually progress by a comfortable scoreline.
Higgins, who made an early break of 116, split the opening six frames with Holt and was behind midway through frame seven. But he then seized on an opening to inch ahead in the match.
"I'm delighted to win. I was on edge the whole game," said Higgins, who will play Mark Davis or Cao Yupeng next.
"Being the first match on, sometimes that's not for the best. The table was playing really slow, the cushions were the slowest I think I've ever played on and it was difficult to get used to the conditions."
Australian Open champion Barry Hawkins came through a difficult assignment against China's Liang Wenbo to record a 6-4 win.
The match looked to have tipped in Liang's favour when he came from 3-1 behind to lead 4-3, a run of three frames sparked by a rapid 71.
But the 25-year-old former Shanghai Masters lost the momentum and Hawkins made him pay, levelling the match before edging 5-4 in front of his fellow left-hander and sealing victory with a decisive run of 38 in the next frame.