Mark Allen’s love affair with the Haikou World Open continued as he beat Mike Dunn in the last 64 on the opening day’s action in China on Monday.
The two-time defending champion has never lost a match in the event since it went out east and will be hoping that run will continue as he bids to salvage what has been a mixed campaign so far.
The Northern Irishman won consecutive minor ranking event titles on the European Tour last summer but has been largely quiet on the circuit for the rest of the time.
So much so that his automatic qualification for the upcoming World Championship is in doubt as he battles to stay inside the top 15 in the world ranking that gain entry alongside defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The 28 year-old trailed Dunn 2-1 in the early exchanges this morning but was able to reel off four frames on the bounce to advance to the last 32 where could potentially meet Mark Williams, another high-profile name hoping to break into the top 15.
Most of the elite players made it through their opening ties unscathed but there was one notable casualty as Scotland’s Stephen Maguire lost 5-4 to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh of Thailand in a tight affair.
There were no such problems, though, for countrymen John Higgins and Graeme Dott, who overcame Alex Davies 5-1 and Tian Pengfei 5-2 respectively, while Englishmen Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins, Mark Davis and Stuart Bingham also progressed – the latter with a 5-3 triumph over veteran Steve Davis.
World no.1 Neil Robertson fired in his 89th century break of the season in a 5-1 drubbing of Jamie Jones as he edges ever closer to the magical ton of tons that seems almost inevitable at this point.
Elsewhere, home hopeful Xiao Guodong, who was runner-up in the earlier Shanghai Masters to compatriot Ding Junhui, was made to rue the cost of failing to hit a ball he could see three times in a row, thus surrendering a frame he had actually been leading at the time.
Guodong went on to lose the match by the odd frame to Pankaj Advani, but the latter’s fellow Indian Aditya Mehta was downed 5-3 by Michael White.
Finally, Ryan Day saw off Michael Wasley in another decider while Andrew Higginson and Noppom Saengkham also emerged victorious in 5-2 wins over Craig Steadman and Gerard Greene.
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