The first evening in Cheltenham saw all top seeds progress except… Ronnie.
Marco Fu ended a 10-year losing run against Ronnie O’Sullivan, coming through 4-2 to clinch his place in the last 16 of the Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham.
The Hong Kong potter came into the clash having lost his last nine meetings with the Rocket, in a streak which extended back to the 2009 Welsh Open.
The result is O’Sullivan’s first opening round defeat since the 2016 World Grand Prix, where he lost out against Michael Holt.
Fu secured his impressive victory this evening thanks to breaks of 61,52 and 66. Afterwards he admitted that it wasn’t easy coming into the match off the back of a hefty losing run against O’Sullivan.
“Going through ten years without beating him in tournaments is very hard to handle,” said the three-time ranking event winner. “It is a weird record. I had quite a good one against him in the early part of my career. It is very strange. Sometimes you don’t know what to expect. You can play great against him and still lose.”
The 32 best players of the season so far, according to the one-year list, are here this week with the top 16 progressing to the next phase of the Coral Series at the Players Championship in Preston. The series will then be rounded off with an elite eight player event, the Tour Championship in Llandudno.
Mark Allen is currently leading the series having won ranking silverware at the International Championship and the Scottish Open this season. He comfortably progressed this evening thanks to a 4-2 defeat of Gary Wilson.
Barry Hawkins produced a blistering display to defeat Welshman Ryan Day 4-1 in a repeat of the 2017 World Grand Prix final. The Hawk fired in breaks of 72, 130 and 143 on his way to the win. He will face Fu in the last 16.
Stuart Bingham progressed courtesy of a 4-1 win over China’s Zhao Xintong. The 2015 World Champion will now meet either Kyren Wilson or Matthew Stevens.
I didn’t watch much from the Mark Allen v Gary Wilson match, but from what I saw, Mark Allen wasn’t at his best, far from it. Had he played Marco Fu, or Ronnie, he wouldn’t have won.