Tuesday in Cardiff wasn’t a happy day for the Welsh fans … or the Chinese fans who had come in numbers to watch their favourite. Both Mark Williams and Ding Junhui lost their opening match. There were more surprises as well.
Elliott Slessor 4-3 Mark Williams
Mark Williams was extremely critical of his own performance and quite down on himself. “Mr Lead Back” was so frustrated at a point during the match that he punched the table rather violently. He also was very negative on twitter later. But we shouldn’t forget that there were two players in that match and young Elliott Slessor played very well to lead 3-0, and more impressively, after the two times World Champion and crowd favourite had pegged him back to 3-3, he held himself remarkably well in the decider, making a 90 to win. So congratulations Elliott! (and that comes from a huge Willo fan!)
Robin Hull 4-2 Ding Junhui
I didn’t see the match but I know one thing: Robin Hull is a hard match player and he also scores given the opportunity. So this result isn’t maybe a big surprise. I doubt that Ding had much time, and appetite, for practice so soon after his mother passing. I’m delighted for Robin whose career nearly came to an end a few years ago because of health issues. But Dong deserves a lot of respect and credit, not just for playing under the circumstances but for having a lot of time for his fans after the match. This picture, shared by Worldsnooker, tells it all.
Anthony McGill 4-3 Joe Perry
Anthony came out the winner of this high quality, hard-fought match that featured 3 centuries and a lot of good safety battles as you would expect from those two. Once again it’s a pity that they had to meet in round 1. Perry is out, without a penny, when many players who played a lot worse than him are through.
There were wins for Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter (against Zhao Xintong): none of them had any trouble.
However, speaking of surprises …
Matthew Selt lost by 4-3 to the relatively unknown Mei Xiwen, Michael Holt lost by 4-1 to young Mitchell Mann (young but hard as nail at the table it must be said), Boonyarit Keattikun from Thailand beat Ken Doherty by 4-1 (the professional future of the Darling of Dublin is seriously at risk now), Yan Bingtao beat Daniel Wells by 4-1, a result that will not please the Welsh fans, but will delight Ronnie. Daniel was very impressed and was full of praise for his young conqueror on twitter later in the evening. And veteran James Wattana defeated Xiao Guodong by 4-3 …