The quest for the World Title has started yesterday in Sheffield.
Two players so far had to withdraw: Hamza Akbar because of visa issues, Syd Wilson because of ill health, despite testing negative for the coronavirus. It’s very unfortunate for both.
Pakistan’s top player Hamza Akbar has been forced to pull out of the Betfred World Championship qualifying rounds due to visa issues.
He was due to play Amine Amiri in the first round on Wednesday and had intended to travel to the UK, but despite all efforts has been unable to obtain a visa.
Both WST and the WPBSA had been working with contacts at the Visa Office to exhaust every avenue but unfortunately these efforts were unsuccessful.
Morocco’s Amiri receives a bye into the second round, where he will face Martin Gould.
England’s Sydney Wilson has also pulled out, due to ill health. He suffered from fever symptoms and notified us as required, and we appreciate his honesty in informing us. He tested negative for Covid-19 but our rules outline that anyone symptomatic within 14 days of their scheduled arrival must declare this and must not attend the event.
Wilson was due to face Lukas Kleckers on Wednesday, so Germany’s Kleckers receives a bye to the second round, where he will play Sunny Akani.
Hamza Akbar withdrawal seriously boosts the chances for Martin Gould to keep his tour card.
Jimmy White defeated Russia’s Ivan Kakovskii 6-3 on the first day of Betfred World Championship qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
White’s last appearance at the Crucible came back in 2006. However, the legendary six-time World Championship runner-up has appeared in the final round of qualifying twice since then.
In a tense encounter this evening, White was unable to shake off his 21-year-old opponent in the early parts of the match. With the score at 4-3, the Whirlwind summoned breaks of 54 and 58 to get over the line with two frames to spare. Next up White faces Cypriot Michael Georgiou, who must win the match to stand any chance of tour survival.
White said: “Because I am so revved up, I have been practising hard and playing good players. I’ve been producing good stuff on a daily basis. When you come to a tournament where you want to win so bad and you make so many unforced errors, it is mindblowing.
“If I beat Michael Georgiou I’ve got to beat Rob Milkins and then probably Jimmy Robertson. I might have got ahead of myself today and it could have cost me, he potted some good balls. I’ve got to stay focussed throughout the whole game against Michael Georgiou.”
Andy Hicks overcame 12-time women’s World Champion Reanne Evans 6-3 to reach the second round.
Hicks regained his place as a professional on the circuit at the start of this season, after successfully negotiating Q School.
The Devon cueman has appeared at Crucible on eight occasions, including a trip to the semi-finals on his debut in 1995. He will face Sam Craigie in the next round this week, as he continues his bid for a first trip to the Theatre of Dreams since 2007.
Hicks said: “It’s the only thing that motivates me. That’s probably why I struggled a bit today, the World Championship means everything. I’ve been to the semi-finals, albeit many years ago. Of course I’d like to do well and that’s why I put added pressure on myself because this is the biggest event of the year.
“Sam’s a good player, but they are all good players. I just have to play my own game, play better than I have done today obviously. If I play like I know I can then I can beat anybody.”
Allan Taylor booked his progression with an impressive 6-1 defeat of Iran’s Soheil Vahedi. He now faces Welshman Lee Walker in round two.
It’s already been a highly successful week for Taylor, after yesterday evening’s 4-0 defeat of Adam Duffy in the final of the Challenge Tour Playoff, which sealed his professional status for next season.
Welshman Kishan Hirani staged a dramatic fightback to beat Finland’s Robin Hull 6-5. Hirani had trailed 5-1 before claiming five frames on the bounce, including breaks of 58 and 70, to book a second round meeting with Louis Heathcote.
English 19-year-old amateur Hayden Staniland secured his progression with a fine 6-1 win over Riley Parsons, while Chinese 16-year-old Wu Yize beat WSF Open winner Ashley Hugill 6-4.
Those results mean that Adam Stefanow is now relegated from the main Tour.
I’m very pleased to see Wu Yize go through, and I hope that they will show 16 years old Antoni Kowalski, from Poland on television in round 2. Antoni defeated David Lilley, a vastly experienced player. The match had only one break over 50, so it’s not that the youngster out-potted his opponent. He must have shown tactical skills and a patience rarely associated with young age.
I saw very, very little of the action.
From that little I saw, Reanne Evans, the only female player in the competition, didn’t play anywhere near her best. To be fair however she hasn’t been at her best with any consistency for the last couple of years.
Kishan Hirani certainly can play, but at 5-1 down I didn’t give him a chance against someone as experienced as Robin Hull. I did not see anything of the match, so it’s impossible for me to form an opinion on what happened. However, only a few days ago, this was put on twitter by someone reliable:
When I saw this, I never thought about covid-19; indeed, Robin suffered a very severe, potentially fatal, viral infection that prevented him to play for most of 2003/04 and has been plagued with health issues since.