2010 world champion Neil Robertson stormed into the second round of this year’s event in Sheffield after a convincing 10-2 victory over Jamie Jones on Monday.
The Australian, who compiled a tournament-high 143 in the opening session to lead 7-2, opened the second session with an excellent 133 and duly took the next two frames for a crushing defeat of the young Welshman.
The triumph, and more to the point the manner in which it was achieved, will send out a big message to the rest of the field.
In the last couple of years Robertson has entered the Crucible on the back of a run to the final of the China Open thousands of miles away in Beijing.
While the 33 year-old wouldn’t have planned it this way, exiting that event in the first round this year might have done him some favours as he has been able to refine his game with sustained preparation for the big one.
Robertson will play either Ali Carter or Alan McManus in the last 16, with the former currently holding a 6-3 lead over the Scot in their first round clash.
Also in the Melbourne man’s quarter is 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins, who just about scrambled over the winning line in his bout with fellow Englishman Matthew Selt.
Hawkins boasted a 9-4 lead but sat in despair as his opponent launched a fierce attack, winning five on the trot with runs of 61, 51, 102, 109 and 94 to force a decider.
Earlier this season, Hawkins had lost to Nigel Bond from a similar position in the UK Championship when he surrendered a 5-0 lead to lose 6-5 in York.
However, the 35 year-old managed to get the first opportunity in the 19th frame and a brace of medium-sized breaks were enough to complete a relieved victory.
In the bottom half of the draw, Stuart Bingham escaped a potential banana skin against Robbie Williams to eventually overcome the 28 year-old 10-7 and go beyond the first hurdle for only the fifth time in his career.
Williams led 5-4 after the morning session and the scores were tied at 6-6 early on in the evening, but Shanghai Masters champion Bingham pulled away with three decisive frames to establish a 9-6 advantage which left his challenger with too much to do.
Meanwhile, Ding Junhui got his Crucible campaign off to a precarious start before managing to salvage the situation just before it approached crisis levels.
The 11-time ranking event winner went 4-0 down to Mark Davis in a slow beginning to their encounter, but breaks of 66, 109 and 76 brought him back to within one overnight.
With their match scheduled for Tuesday morning, it will be interesting to see if they are able to finish on time having only played seven of their required frames.
Carter’s joust with McManus also reaches its conclusion on day four, while two former world champions enter the fray.
Ronnie O’Sullivan commences his quest for a sixth crown against debutant Craig Steadman while in an all-Welsh affair Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens do battle in a repeat of the 2000 final.
Finally, Mark Allen and Ryan Day will play out their entire match as well.
Categories: Snooker News