The defending Champion is the only seed who finishes his match on day 1 and Mark Selby progressed to the last 16 round, after beating Jamie Jones by 10-7.
There were uncertainties about Mark’s form and state of mind after his admission about mental health struggles that prompted him to take a break from the sport. He did look vulnerable at the start of the match, but as the match progressed you could see him becoming more comfortable with each frame.
Jamie Jones, who had reached the quarter-finals on his Crucible debut, fell 8-3 behind but fought with all he had. It was too much and too late however as Mark eventually prevailed by 10-7.
Here are the reports by WST:
Selby Takes Control Of Opener
Defending champion Mark Selby made a strong start to the 2022 Betfred World Championship, opening up a 6-3 lead over Jamie Jones on day one at the Crucible Theatre.
The four-time World Champion lifted the famous trophy 12 months ago in Sheffield, following a pulsating 18-15 defeat of Shaun Murphy in the final. His other victories at the Theatre of Dreams have come in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
This season hasn’t seen Selby hit the same heights, with the 38-year-old making just one semi-final appearance at the World Grand Prix back in December.
The loss of form was understandable after a brave admission earlier this year revealed that he has been struggling with depression. Selby elected not to play in his last two tournaments to give himself a break ahead of the World Championship and says he feels he has turned a corner with his mental health.
Jones successfully negotiated the qualifying gauntlet last week and defeated Tom Ford in the final round. The Welshman’s best Crucible run came in 2012, when he reached the quarter-finals in what was his debut year.
It was Jones who took a fragmented opener this morning, before Selby restored parity by claiming the second. The Leicester cueman followed that up with breaks of 71 and 134 to lead 3-1 at the mid-session.
Jones clawed one back upon the resumption with a break of 60. A tightly contested sixth frame then came down to the yellow, with Selby eventually laying a telling snooker behind the black, which garnered 16 penalty points. Jones then left an opportunity to pot the yellow, Selby took it and added the green to go 4-2 up.
That clicked 20-time ranking event winner Selby into gear and runs of 73 and 129 then saw him assume a commanding 6-2 advantage. However, Jones took the last to end just three behind at 6-3. They will return at 7pm this evening to play out the remainder of the best of 19 encounter.
World number seven Zhao Xintong blitzed to a 7-2 lead over Jamie Clarke after their opening session.
The 25-year-old sensationally landed his first Triple Crown title at the UK Championship in December, he defeated Luca Brecel 10-5 in the final. China’s Zhao won his second piece of ranking silverware at the German Masters in January, whitewashing close friend Yan Bingtao 9-0 in the title match.
Clarke came through three qualifying matches in order to reach the Crucible for a second time and avoid relegation from the circuit in the process. He beat Graeme Dott 10-8 in the final round.
Zhao came out firing on all cylinders this morning and crafted breaks of 98, 57, 73, 109, 78 and 103 on his way to a 6-1 lead. Clarke responded with 67 to get his second frame on the board, but it was Zhao who took a 30-minute concluding frame to end 7-2 up. They will return for the concluding session tomorrow morning at 10am.
O’Sullivan Hits Gilbert For Six
Ronnie O’Sullivan came from 3-0 down to win six frames in a row against David Gilbert, taking a 6-3 lead in the first session of their Betfred World Championship clash
Gilbert will rue missing chances to put more pressure on his illustrious opponent, as O’Sullivan recovered from a slow start to take control of this first round Crucible clash. They resume on Sunday at 2.30pm with first to ten frames to reach the last 16.
Six-time champion O’Sullivan needs one more title to match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven, and comes into the tournament on top of the world rankings. Gilbert, a semi-finalist here in 2019, was considered a tough opening draw, though O’Sullivan has won all six of their previous meetings.
Breaks of 56 and 94 gave Gilbert the first two frames. The third came down to the colours and O’Sullivan missed a tough green to a baulk corner, leaving his opponent the chance to go 3-0 ahead. O’Sullivan got going with a 122 to pull one back, then in the fifth he trapped Gilbert on a difficult snooker on the last red, and from the chance that followed he narrowed the gap to 3-2.
Trailing 32-23 in frame six, Gilbert failed to convert a long red, and handed O’Sullivan an opening to add a run of 64 to square the match. A superb break of 104 gave O’Sullivan the lead at 4-3, and when his opponent missed a black off its spot on 25 in frame eight, he cleared with 66 to build his momentum. The last frame of the session was dominated by O’Sullivan, helped by a run of 54, to establish a handy overnight cushion.
On the other table, Crucible debutant Jackson Page is on course to register an early shock in the tournament as he leads former finalist Barry Hawkins 6-3.
Welsh 20-year-old Page won four matches to qualify for the tournament and has already shown his potential on the main stage in Sheffield, making a century and six more breaks over 50.
World number 90 Page fired runs of 53, 67, 55 and 84 to go 3-0 ahead. Hawkins, runner-up to O’Sullivan in 2013, took two of the next three to close the gap to 4-2, then Page pulled away again with 61 and 102 for 6-2.
In the last frame of the session, Hawkins trailed by 29 points on the yellow but got the snooker he required on the green. Page missed a thin clip on a long blue, and Hawkins converted excellent pots on blue, pink and black to raise his hopes of a fight-back. They return to the baize at 7pm on Sunday.
Selby Thrives On Return To Main Stage
Mark Selby praised the tremendous reception he received from the Crucible crowd as he began the defence of his Betfred World Championship title with a 10-7 defeat of Jamie Jones.
Selby made three centuries in an impressive performance as he took the first step towards his goal of a fifth Crucible crown since 2014. He was briefly under pressure when Jones recovered from 8-3 to 8-6, but passed the test to add the two frames he needed, setting up a last 16 meeting with Yan Bingtao or Chris Wakelin.
Leicester’s Selby continues to have treatment for the mental health struggles he revealed earlier this year, but on the baize the 38-year-old looked focussed on the challenge as he avoided a potential opening day banana skin against a dangerous opponent in Jones. This was his first competitive outing since the Welsh Open six weeks ago, and he was welcomed back into the limelight by the fans in Sheffield.
“It was quite emotional walking out there today,” said Selby. “The reception was great, I suppose partly because I am defending champion and partly because I have been honest about what I am going through. People can relate to it. Everyone on social media has also been really supportive.
“The result was irrelevant for me today because it was all about going out there and enjoying it. At one point I wasn’t sure whether I was going to play in this event, so even if I had lost I would not have been disappointed. I have had matches this season, like in the Masters, where I stopped enjoying the game. I still love the game but mentally I was not in a good place. Today was a lot better.”
Trailing 6-3 after the first session, Jones had a chance to clear from 55-0 down in the opening frame tonight, but in potting the final green he sent the cue-ball into a centre pocket. That handed Selby the chance to extend his lead, and he also took frame 11 by getting the better of a safety battle on the last red for 8-3.
The 12th came down to a long tactical exchange on the final black, and Jones slotted it home from mid-range to start his fight-back. A run of 53 helped him make it 8-5 and when Selby missed a simple pink to a centre pocket on 48 in frame 14, he looked vulnerable as Jones closed within two frames.
But world number two Selby weathered the storm, making a fabulous 137 total clearance to lead 9-6. Jones pulled one back and had chances in frame 17, but Selby outmaneuvered him on the final red and cleared to cross the winning line.
Selby added: “I have so much respect for Jamie, I think he’s a great player. He is showing everyone just how good he is. It was a tough game and I’m happy to get through.
“I’ll be going back home for a few days, spending some time with the family. When I come back, I’ll try and enjoy it again but whatever happens I’ll accept. I’ll be out there trying my hardest as I always do.”
Jones said: “I couldn’t keep control of the white, around the black spot. There’s a lot of pressure out there and you need to make things simple, but I couldn’t do that. I showed a lot of heart and I’m proud to have stuck in there with the World Champion. I could have rolled over at 8-3 but I never give up.”
On the other table, Stephen Maguire opened up a 6-3 lead over last year’s runner-up Shaun Murphy. The pair have been battling it out on the circuit for 21 years, since their first meeting back in 2001. However, this is the first time they have ever met at the Crucible. Murphy leads the head-to-head standings 12-10.
Maguire claimed the opening frame, before a break of 53 helped 2005 World Champion Murphy restore parity at 1-1. Scotland’s Maguire edged ahead once more with a run of 65, before Englishman Murphy again pegged him back to 2-2.
Maguire rapped the table in frustration after missing a red during a scrappy 37-minute fifth frame, but he eventually stole it on the black to lead 3-2. The former UK Champion then edged two clear for the first time, crafting a run of 67 to come from 51 points behind and win the sixth on the pink.
Maguire added the next two frames to make it four on the bounce and lead 6-2. Murphy won the final frame of the evening, compiling a break of 79, but will still require seven of the last ten when they return on Sunday at 7pm.
Speaking after his match, Mark Selby said that he actually enjoyed playing yesterday and feels in a better state of mind. Here are some more quotes reported by Phil Haigh:
‘It was tough, it was quite emotional going out there today, because the last two tournaments I’ve not played because it’s been quite tough.
‘I’ve been working with this doctor for a little while, he told me to carry on playing at the start, but I just felt like it was getting a bit too much, a bit too much pressure and with me not being in the right mental state. So we gave it a go but then we took a break.
‘I was still up in the air over whether I was going to play in this or not. The last few weeks I’ve done a lot of sessions with him and he’s got me a little bit better, I’m definitely on the right track.’
‘It’s never been the snooker that’s been the pressure that’s put me in the state I’m in,’ he explained. ‘It’s my past, losing my dad so young, I know people lose loved ones every day, but I’ve never really coped with it as much as other people and let it out. I bottled it up, it ended up snowballing and it got to the point where I had to speak out.
‘I got a great standing ovation walking out this morning and a great ovation tonight. It was quite emotional. I’ve had a lot of support on social media after speaking out as well.
‘Snooker’s such a hard game even if you’re in the right mental state, if you’re not in the right mental state then its doubly hard.
‘Just coming here for the tournament got me thinking a bit better and feeling more positive. I said I’m going to give it a go. No way in the world I wanted to not be in it as defending champ.’
‘The result today was irrelevant,’ he said. ‘As long as I tried to enjoy it, smile a little bit, which I did. Whatever happens, happens. The main thing for me is getting myself better.
‘Jamie’s a great player and he said to me at the end: “Well done mate, it’s nice to see you back.” That was a nice touch.
‘Never mind the centuries, I actually enjoyed the game today. I was sat in my chair at 9-7 thinking, “If he comes back and beats me 10-9 I can walk away thinking I actually enjoyed that.”
‘That’s been missing most of this year. I’ve not been performing great but not enjoying it either. I’ve said that the time I stop enjoying the game is the time I hang my cue up.
‘Because I love the game, obviously being in a tough mental state was difficult. Especially in snooker, sat in your chair for long periods of time, you’re going into your own head space. It wasn’t good. That’s why I took the break.’
I was never one to enjoy seeing people – or animals – suffer. Contrary to so many who seem to have loved seeing Ronnie being tortured by Ebdon in 2005, I never saw a person’s struggles and pain as something “compelling”. It’s not compelling, it’s awful, horrible. That’s all. I’m genuinely happy to read that Mark enjoyed his match and is feeling better.
On a different an lighter note, Ronnie predicted “carnage” for the seeds in the first round this year. Both Barry Hawkins and Shaun Murphy are in serious trouble…
Zhao Xintong on the other hand took a very useful lead yesterday and, at the time of writing has already swiftly wrapped his first round match up, beating Jamie Clarke by 10-2.