World no.1 Mark Selby avoided the fate of his England World Cup teammate Stuart Bingham by reaching the Australian Open second round in Bendigo.
World champion Bingham exited the event on the opening day when he lost 5-4 to Fergal O’Brien but Selby emerged from what could have materialised into a more difficult tie with Mark King unscathed.
Veteran King actually took the opening frame and could have extended his lead only to see Selby, the master of brinkmanship, level with a clearance to the black and go ahead with a re-spotted black in the third.
Being in front for the first time boosted Selby’s confidence and he duly compiled a superb tournament-high 141 total clearance to extend his advantage at the interval, before runs of 54 and 46 saw him ease his way to 5-1 victory.
Two-time runner-up Neil Robertson is out, though, with the home favourite succumbing to a dramatic 5-4 defeat at the hands of the much-improved Matthew Selt.
Selt once drove Robertson to tournaments across Britain but before the match quipped that he now just “drives him around the bend.”
That proved fairly accurate as the 30 year-old scrapped his way to a 4-0 lead, playing well but mostly taking advantage of his opponent’s lacklustre display.
Melbourne man Robertson had emerged triumphant in the opening ranking event of each of the last two campaigns but both of those came in Wuxi before he subsequently lost at the final hurdle on home turf in 2013 and 2014.
The former world champion was desperate to make amends and go one better this time around but, even though he staged a spirited fightback to force a decider, he ultimately fell just short as Selt scrambled over the winning line after a nervy conclusion.
Elsewhere, there was another shock of sorts as Mark Joyce ousted namesake Mark Allen 5-2 with a high break of 85.
That said, there aren’t really many results that legislate a huge surprise at this early stage of the season as the competitors retune following the summer break.
Elsewhere, Michael Holt recorded a dominant 5-0 success over Gerard Greene, seemingly already putting to good use the words of wisdom that he will have no doubt received from new coach Terry Griffiths.
Holt is known as the Hitman, due to his aggressive nature around the table and a hot temperament which has often cost him in key encounters, so the help of guru Griffiths could be just the tonic as he enters the latter stages of his career.
Finally, Joe Perry and Robert Milkins set up a last 16 clash with each other after respective 5-3 and 5-1 victories over Jamie Burnett and Australian amateur Adrian Ridley.