Stars Set Off in Berlin

The German Masters got under way on Wednesday at the Tempodrom in Berlin.

Robertson bounded back well from his heavy defeat to Shaun Murphy in the Masters final - photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.
Robertson bounded back well from his heavy defeat to Shaun Murphy in the Masters final – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The event has been widely acclaimed since its reintroduction onto the calendar in 2011, with massive enthusiastic crowds cheering on their favourite players amid a wonderful setting.

The same is to be expected in this short, busy five-day burst of a tournament that will conclude this Sunday in front of a packed auditorium of around 2500 people.

The opening day saw most of the big name competitors manoeuvre their way into the last 16, albeit some more easily than others.

Mark Selby participated in and reached the final of the Chinese Pool World Championship last weekend so it wasn’t a surprise to see him struggling early on his clash with Scotland’s Anthony McGill.

The world champion benefited, though, from some scrappy play to open up a 4-1 cushion only to be pegged back by the UK Championship quarter-finalist with some superb scoring that forced a decider.

Yet, as so often has been the case in the past, Selby gritted his teeth and ground out the victory at the death.

This was in stark contrast to Neil Robertson’s triumph, with the Australian racing away to a 5-0 romp over Dubliner Fergal O’Brien.

Judd Trump recorded a similar scoreline over Michael Holt, knocking in a brace of centuries in the final frames to seal the whitewash.

Trump and Stephen Maguire had been my two pre-tournament favourites and the latter didn’t disappoint either, holding off David Gilbert’s late charge for a 5-3 win.

The pair are due to meet in the last four but have potential quarter-final ties with Robertson and Selby respectively.

However, Selby could have his work cut out for him in the next round after 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon produced arguably the performance of the day in overcoming John Higgins.

Ebdon was 2-1 down to the Scot early on but reeled off four successive frames with breaks of 65, 80, 133 and 66 to complete an excellent 5-2 victory.

Meanwhile, the biggest upset was the loss of world no.5 Barry Hawkins, who succumbed to a 5-3 defeat to fellow Englishman Mark King.

Hawkins has been in dreadful form of late and this result will do his confidence no favours at all but veteran King scored quite well with a high break of 106.

Finally, China’s Xiao Guodong came from behind to pip Liam Highfield in a deciding frame thriller while Martin Gould put an end to amateur Ashley Carty’s run following a 5-3 success over the youngster.

In a very frenetic scheduling, Thursday will see the conclusion of round 1 as well as the first crop of matches from the last 16 being played.

This ensures that all 24 players remaining in the draw will have table time, which is great for the paying punter at least.

In the last 32, the encounter to keep an eye on is probably the Marks Williams and Allen affair, clashing again following their epic contest in the semi-finals of the International Championship earlier in the campaign.

Defending champion Ding Junhui and bookie’s favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan also enter the fray with challenging matches against Ryan Day and Mark Davis respectively.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here. 

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