Zhang may find talented Mann a difficult rival to shake off in York
Edgbaston ace can continue his UK Championship charge
Mitchell Mann has seen off Kyren Wilson and Sam Baird with room to spare and the brightest talent to emerge from Birmingham in many years can continue his Betway UK Championship charge with victory over Zhang Anda.
Edgbaston ace Mann has been disappointed with the way he started the season, but he has gone some way towards making amends in York with two bright displays in his opening matches.
Mann opened with a break of 92 and added contributions of 73 and 56 on the way to ousting world number 13 Wilson 6-3 and runs of 70, 69, 61 and 55 in seeing off Baird, the cream of Devon, 6-2.
Zhang had breaks of 105, 94, 81 (twice), 63 and 52 in an impressive 6-2 opening victory over fellow Chinese Tian Pengfei and then posted a 6-3 upset win against Anthony McGill, who some observers were eyeing up as a viable title outsider at the Barbican Centre.
Bookmakers make Zhang, whose highest break against McGill was a modest 54, a pretty strong favourite to frank rank – he sits at 81st on the latest chart while Mann is still way down at 115th.
But along with Judd Trump’s second-round conqueror Oliver Lines, Mann looks one of England’s more proactive young players and considering Zhang doesn’t always produce his A-game, a start of 2.5 frames on the handicap could be generous.
Lines, a 6-2 victor over Trump, can be considered at 11-8 in his clash with Jimmy Robertson, although the early money has been for the greater experience of the Bexhill-on-Sea potter.
M Mann +2.5 frames
1pt 8-11 Coral, Hills