World no.1 Mark Selby and home favourite Ding Junhui recorded unexpected losses on day two of the Shanghai Masters in China today.
Defending champion Selby had come into the event seemingly in good form having claimed the second UK Players Tour Championship event of the season a few weeks ago but surprisingly went down 5-1 to fellow Englishman Jamie Cope.
The scoreline may have reflected a dominance on the part of Cope but in actual fact three of the frames were decided on the final colours so it could have been a little closer if things had gone a different way.
That said, usually under extremely tight and tense circumstances Cope’s ability to emerge victorious comes into question and his success today underlines what has already been an encouraging campaign so far for the 27 year-old.
Runner-up in two world ranking events, both coming way back in the 2006/7 season, Cope, known as ‘Shotgun’, has struggled with consistency over the last couple of years.
Despite still being a prolific break builder his temperament has often come into question – reflected in the fact that his previous two meetings with Selby both ended in whitewash defeats.
Today’s success, though, could be a turning point in what has so far been an underwhelming career for someone who has always been heralded as a player with an abundance of talent.
The top quarter of the draw opened up even further later in the day when Mark King came from 3-0 down to edge Ding Junhui 5-4 in a nervy decider.
Ding was seemingly cruising to an easy triumph when he took the first few frames but capitulated in front of his adoring fans – which is by no means the first time this has happened it has to be said.
Despite having enjoyed his breakthrough into the pro ranks by winning the China Open in 2005 as a teenager, Ding has largely struggled with the overwhelming sense of expectation from a nation that expects him deliver at every visit to the table.
When the encounter became close, there only ever seemed to be one winner and King, a semi-finalist in Shanghai last year, duly held his nerve for his best win for a while.
Elsewhere in the last 32, there were a flurry of tight matches that eventually went the way of the seeded players with Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter successful in deciders over Dominic Dale and Robert Milkins respectively while Stephen Maguire withstood a marathon 75-minute eighth frame with Peter Ebdon to prevail 5-3.
Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen avoided a minor scare when he at one point trailed 14 year-old Lu Haotian 2-1 but reeled off four on the bounce to advance to the second round.
In the last of the wildcard round matches, there was disappointment for both qualifiers as Irishman Fergal O’Brien lost 5-2 to Chen Feilong and Jimmy Robertson went down to former pro Jin Long by the odd frame.
The full draw and results can be viewed by clicking here.