Before the first ball was hit at the Crucible, there were, as usual various previews on show.
(ES, with interviews of various players, including Mark Williams and Ronnie)
As usual on the opening day of the World Championship, only one match was played to a finish, the one featuring the defending Champion. Mark Williams won his opening match by 10-7. His introduction by Rob Walker – that was later shared on twitter by Williams himself – was banter, and I found it rather hilarious – but apparently didn’t go down well with the PC brigade! And Mark was far from impressed by Worldsnooker as you will hear in his press conference
Other than that Michael Georgiou had an absolute nightmare out there and could become only the second player to suffer a whitewash at the Crucible: the first and, up to now only whitewash came in 1992 when John Parrott, the defending champion, beat Eddie Charlton by 10-0. He’s trailing Neil Robertson by 9-0.
Neil Robertson is one frame away a potential whitewash victory, leading Michael Georgiou 9-0 after the opening session of their first round tie at the Betfred World Championship in Sheffield.
The Australian has arrived at the Crucible in some of the best form of his career, having won three ranking titles in a season for the first time. 2010 World Champion Robertson lifted silverware at the Riga Masters, Welsh Open and the recent China Open.
Thus far it has been a nightmare debut for Georgiou in snooker’s Theatre of Dreams. Playing as the first ever Cypriot to compete in the final stages of the World Championship, he’s in danger of breaking the unwanted record of least points scored in a match at the Crucible.
Georgiou has amassed 107 points so far in the tie and requires 85 more to beat the record low of 191 set by Danny Fowler in his 10-1 defeat to Stephen Hendry in 1993. The only player in Crucible history to suffer a whitewash defeat was Eddie Charlton, who lost 10-0 to John Parrott in 1992.
Robertson, who has 16 ranking titles to his name, showed his class in abundance this afternoon as he piled the pressure on Georgiou. He fired in breaks of 58, 100, 96, 68, 120, 85 and 55 to move to the verge of victory at the end of the session, leading 9-0.
They will return to play the best of 19 match to its conclusion tomorrow at 7pm.
China’s top player Ding Junhui opened up a 6-3 advantage against Anthony McGill in their opening round clash.
Former Crucible runner-up Ding enjoys a 4-0 lead over McGill in their head-to-head record. He put on a dominant display to beat the Scot 13-4 in the second round here in Sheffield 12 months ago.
McGill has it all to do if he wishes to progress, but is no stranger to comeback victories. The two-time ranking event winner overturned a 7-2 deficit against Robert Milkins in qualifying to come through a 10-8 victor. He also beat Ryan Day 10-8 from 7-3 down in the first round last year.
The opening two frames were shared, before 13-time ranking event winner Ding claimed three on the bounce to make it 4-1. McGill replied by taking the sixth frame, but a stunning run of 121 saw Ding move 5-2 in front.
Ding then moved a further frame to the good, before McGill kept himself in contention with a break of 76 to make it 6-3 at the close of play.
They will play their final session tomorrow morning at 10am.
Mark Williams staved off a Martin Gould fightback to begin the defence of his Betfred World Championship title with a 10-7 win at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Gould pegged World Champion Williams back from 9-4 to 9-7, before the Welshman eventually managed to get himself over the line and book a second round meeting with either David Gilbert or Joe Perry.
Williams recorded a sensational win at last year’s World Championship, claiming the title in an all-time classic final with John Higgins 18-16.
The victory capped off a remarkable resurgence for Williams, who didn’t even qualify for the event in 2017. The three-time Crucible king set a new record of 15 years for the longest gap between world titles, having also lifted the famous trophy in 2000 and 2003.
Since that victory Williams did partly, by his own admission, let his foot off the gas with some extensive celebrations and a cut back in practice. However, the 22-time ranking event winner did still manage to add to his title tally by winning the Yushan World Open last August.
Williams held a 6-3 advantage after this morning’s play and a dramatic opening frame this evening saw him extend that cushion.
A break of 52 helped Gould to come from behind and force a re-spotted black. However, his efforts to claw his way back into the frame were in vain as Williams deposited a superb black from long range to move further ahead at 7-3.
Gould claimed the following frame to reduce the gap to three, but breaks of 70 and 69 helped Williams to move to the verge of victory at 9-4.
However, it was from there that the Pinner potter mounted a charge to push himself back into contention. Consecutive breaks of 70, 87 and 76 saw him move within two frames of Williams to make it 9-7.
The World Champion wasn’t to be denied a second round berth, he controlled the seventeenth frame to secure the 10-7 victory.
“The first round is always one of the toughest to get through and he was probably one of the hardest qualifiers to draw,” said 44-year-old Williams. “Overall I thought I played really well. It was only towards the end that I started getting a bit twitchy. He got back from 9-4 to 9-7 and if he had made it 9-8 then I would have been under pressure. It was a tough first round match and I thought I played quite well.
“I just think my form has been improving for the last month or two and it showed there. Even though the last few frames were a bit scrappy, overall it was good.
“It was absolutely brilliant walking out this morning as defending champion. I’ve been looking forward to that for months. The cheer and support that I had was unbelievable. It was probably the loudest applause I have ever had walking into an arena. It was a brilliant feeling, I was buzzing.”
On the other table, 15th seed Stephen Maguire fell 5-4 behind against Crucible debutant Tian Pengfei. Maguire has lost in the first round in eight of his 15 previous appearances in Sheffield and will need to win six of the last ten frames tomorrow to avoid a ninth early exit.
Tian, one of six Chinese players in the field this year, took the opening frame with a break of 52. Glasgow’s Maguire levelled with a run of 80 then took a scrappy third frame, before Tian made it 2-2 with a 59.
In frame five, Maguire came from 58-0 down to take it with a clinical 62 clearance, then he added the sixth for 4-2. But Tian rose to the occasion as the session progressed, winning the last three frames with runs of 45, 100 and 70. They resume on Sunday at 7pm.
And Mark Williams press conference after his win:
As you can hear there was a bit more there than Worldsnooker reported.
Ronnie remembers the season…
Ronnie gave a little “break-off” master class on ES:
Eurosport recalled the 1994 final … a painful memory for Jimmy White, his fans and his friends.
And, finally here is the program for today:
and a short feature by Rob Walker about the only teenager in the draw, Luo Honghao
Nothing against Shaun Murphy, but I would love to see Luo go through …