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Hobbling O’Sullivan a Doubt as Carter Crashes Out

The first round of the UK Championship concluded on Thursday with most of the big names easing into the last 64.

O'Sullivan last won the UK title in 2007 - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

O’Sullivan last won the UK title in 2007 – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

However, it had looked as though all of the top 16 seeds were going to avoid an early exit but the returning Ali Carter lost the last three frames as he fell 6-5 to China’s Zhang Anda.

The ‘Captain’ was hoping to record his first win on home soil since he came back from his latest battle with cancer but let a 5-3 advantage slip to allow Zhang in to pounce with breaks of 100 and 50.

It’s a shame for the 35 year-old, who surely would have been hoping to make a run into the business end of the event and feed off the inevitable support he was going to receive from the sympathetic public.

That said, in the greater scheme of things the result on the table doesn’t matter as much as his fate off of it, and his continued improvement in health should lead to better results in the near future.

Elsewhere, it was a routine enough for the others expected to progress comfortably.

That said, four-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was feeling plenty of discomfort as he fought past a valiant effort from Welshman Daniel Wells in a 6-2 win.

The ‘Rocket’ was launching himself on one foot after breaking his ankle in a fall while running earlier this week.

The 38 year-old admitted afterwards that he found it uncomfortable in the arena and may pull out of the season’s first major if he doesn’t feel the swelling ease by his next match against Peter Lines on Sunday.

This would prove to be a huge disappointment for the tournament as a whole, although the majority of O’Sullivan’s rivals probably wouldn’t mind all that much with the field surely being considerably opened up should he withdraw.

Meanwhile, Dubliner Ken Doherty produced his best performance for quite some time as he fired in a hat-trick of tons en route to a 6-2 victory over Mitchell Mann.

The three-time finalist will meet the in-form Michael White for a place in the last 32 after the 23 year-old beat Cao Xinlong 6-2.

Bulgarian and Ruhr Open champion Shaun Murphy found himself in some trouble when veteran James Wattana led 3-1 at the mid-session interval but the 2008 victor responded by claiming the next five frames to seal a 6-3 win.

Mark Allen, another player well-fancied by many this, opened his account with a 6-2 triumph over amateur Eden Sharav while the defending champion Neil Robertson whitewashed Joe O’Connor.

Hong Kong’s Marco Fu, who narrowly lost to Murphy in the final six years ago, made hard work of his 6-4 win over Qatar’s Ahmed Saif but Mark Williams and Luca Brecel impressed in 6-1 successes over Steven Hallworth and Noppon Saengkham respectively.

Meanwhile, 2004 champion Stephen Maguire, Liang Wenbo, Mark Davis, Jack Lisowski and Kyren Wilson all advanced to the second round.

There is a rest day on Friday so no snooker will be contested today, with play resuming at 1pm local time on Saturday.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.