Fergal O’Brien came from 4-2 down to knock world champion Stuart Bingham out of the Australian Open on day one in Bendigo.
Bingham appeared to be coasting to a routine enough victory in his first competitive match since being crowned Crucible king back in May – barring his World Cup exploits alongside Mark Selby in Wuxi.
But O’Brien, as he so often does, dug deep to pull out an unlikely victory by winning the final three frames to pinch it in a decider.
What was a little surprising was the manner in which the Dubliner achieved the turnaround, compiling runs of 128, 50, 66 and 88 as he dominated the end of the game with some heavy scoring.
O’Brien had a very solid campaign last time around, rising back up the rankings to well inside the top 32, and will be feeling even more confident after Monday’s gutsy comeback.
It doesn’t get much easier for the 43 year-old, though, with four-time world champion John Higgins standing in the way of a quarter-final berth down under.
Scotland’s Higgins looked like going 3-1 down at the interval to opponent Michael Georgiou today when he needed a snooker in the fourth frame, yet duly got the penalty points required before clearing to draw level.
Runs of 83 and 74 saw the Welsh Open champion pull away thereafter as he completed a 5-2 triumph and marched into the second round.
It was a lot more comfortable for his countryman Stephen Maguire, who whitewashed young Joel Walker, while defending champion Judd Trump repeated the feat against close pal Jack Lisowski in just about an hour’s play.
When he first emerged onto the Main Tour in 2010, Lisowski was heralded as a newcomer with all the attributes to emulate the success Trump is now enjoying in the sport.
Yet, despite still being just 24 years of age, the Cheltenham cueist is most definitely at a crossroads in his career with this season perhaps becoming crucial in his development as a player.
Highlighting this is the fact that he has turned to coaching guru Terry Griffiths for help, so if the Welsh 1979 world champion can’t turn his fortunes around then it really will be worrying times for Lisowski.
Trump, meanwhile, looked excellently composed in his drubbing and will be highly fancied to defend his title if he continues in such form.
The 25 year-old takes on Ian Burns next after the Englishman beat 2014 semi-finalist Xiao Guodong 5-3, while Ricky Walden overcame Andrew Higginson 5-3 as well to set up a clash with Maguire.
Earlier in the day, there was another professional victim of the wildcard round as Ben Woollaston was dumped out 5-3 by Australian Adrian Ridley – a former finalist at Q-School.
Matthew Selt had no such worries, though, as he romped to a 5-0 victory over Ben Judge.
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