Yesterday saw the conclusion of the last 32 round in Preston and there were a few surprising results: Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham and John Higgins all lost their opening match.
Mark Selby went out to a very good Martin Gould who displayed the kind of form that brought him up to the semi finals last week in his first title defence in Berlin. Mark of course never gives up and from 3-1 down forced a decider, but Martin held it together and took the match with a break of 54. Martin also made a great 142 total clearance in frame 4, his highest ever in competition quite surprisingly: his previous best was “only” 139.
Stuart Bingham continued to struggle and went out to Ryan Day, a man many now consider as the “best player who never won a title”. Well Ryan is still on course to get rid of that unwanted mantle.
John Higgins lost to Michael White in a very high scoring match: every frame had a least one break over 50, in fact there were 8 in total over the 7 frames they played. I didn’t watch that one, so I can’t really comment, but this comes as a surprise to me: as ferocious a potter Michael is, he’s no match for Higgins in the tactical department.
Shaun Murphy is the Defending Champion and he looked in very good form in beating Michael Holt.
Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson both went through the last 32 round in a rather unconvincing manner.
Ding, who lost his mother very recently, was understandably a bit off colours, but still did enough to get the better of Yu Delu.
Neil Robertson started impressively: he scored 108 and 78 to go 2-0 in front. Then Ricky Walden won a very scrappy third frame after Neil missed unexpectedly. From there Neil somehow completely lost his game and struggled through the rest of the match. He won by 4-2 eventually but was lucky to face an opponent who, according to Clive Everton, was suffering from a back injury and indeed was moving awkwardly around the table and wincing on the shots. Neil will be Ronnie’s opponent this afternoon but it would be presumptuous to write him off because of his poor performance yesterday: every match is different.
All other results went according to expectations, my expectations anyway. Anthony Hamilton lost by 4-0 to Mark Allen and this was absolutely no surprise to me. Anthony went through a very exhausting last week, physically and emotionally, and, after the high of his first ranking title in Berlin, an anti-climax was to be expected.
You can find all detailed results on Cuetracker.