Early Exit for Stevens

Matthew Stevens was the only higher ranked player to be defeated in the opening round of the Wuxi Classic as he was beaten by Yu Delu 5-4 today.

Welshman Stevens enjoyed a successful season last year, highlighted by his return to the winner’s enclosure by claiming the Championship League and thus earning his ticket to play in the 2011 Premier League.

His good form similarly reflected his rise back up the rankings into the elite Top 16 but he surrendered a 9-6 lead over Mark Allen in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield to lose in a deciding frame thriller.

Indeed, Stevens’ record in final frame encounters has not been the best over the years and China’s Delu certainly took advantage of this fact as he progressed to the quarter-finals and a meeting with Ali Carter.

23 year-old Delu has shown some solid early promise in his debut season on the Main Tour, winning his first three matches in qualifying for the Australian Open only to fall short at the final hurdle against Ryan Day.

His confidence must be sky-high, though, and he will look to build on his momentum in the last eight.

Meanwhile, the other first round clashes were more straight forward.

Scotland’s Stephen Maguire almost allowed Liang Wenbo back into the match having led 4-0 at the mid-session interval but eventually stumbled over the line for a 5-2 triumph.

In truth, the match was a dire affair with neither player approaching anywhere near their peak form and Maguire will have to up his game against 2008 champion Ding Junhui in his next match.

Former world champions Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott were also victorious in China.

Ebdon knocked in two century breaks either side of a number of scrappy frames on his way to a 5-3 win over amateur Rouzi Maimaiti while Dott eased past Cao Yupeng 5-2.

Ebdon will play defending champion Shaun Murphy for a place in the last four with Mark Selby entertaining Dott in the final quarter-final tomorrow.

Elsewhere, Stephen Lee withstood a sterling comeback from defending champion Ricky Walden to win the General Cup International 7-6 – another invitational event held this week in Hong Kong.

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