The German Masters got under way on Wednesday at the Tempodrom in Berlin.
It was a day of mainly one-sided affairs as defending champion Mark Selby and fellow favourite for this year’s title Judd Trump eased to whitewash wins.
Late in the day, though, there were two dramatic upsets of sorts as Martin Gould and Ben Woollaston, both ranking event runners-up in 2015, edged Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy in respective deciding frame thrillers.
Irishman Ken Doherty did well to qualify for the main event but was always going to have a tricky time of it in his opener against Stephen Maguire.
And so it proved as the 1997 world champion could only muster a single frame in response to the Scot’s 5-1 rout.
German enthusiast Frank Halfar is volunteering as a steward at the Tempodrom this year and has kindly offered to give his own first impressions of his home tournament in 2016.
By Frank Halfar
“The first day at the Tempodrom is always special.”
“Yes, the arena is by far not full yet, but those who do attend are very dedicated fans. The set-up with the central table and the four other tables circling around it never fails to impress. One can watch each table from nearly every place in the auditorium, albeit always in danger of missing a particularly spectacular shot when the eyes have shifted elsewhere.
“There were no fewer than four whitewashes to be seen on this first day. In fact all three matches in the afternoon session stood at 4-0, before Ken Doherty managed to win one frame after the mid-session break and force Stephen Maguire to work just a little longer for his ticket into the next round. Mark Selby quickly dispatched of newcomer Steven Hallworth, and Graeme Dott took no prisoners against Tian Pengfai.
“The evening session also had two quick and merciless decisions, as Judd Trump sent off Ali Carter 5-0 on the TV table, with the Captain frequently displaying a melancholic smile and giving the impression that he still had -sort of- some pleasure in playing in Berlin again, where he inscribed himself in the winner’s list back in 2013.
“Zhang Anda enjoyed the same clear result against Alfie Burden, thus flying the Chinese flag in Ding Junhui’s absence. Barry Hawkins had a propensity to pot the white, but Alan McManus could not often take advantage and the Hawk safely won 5-2.
“Two crowd pleasing matches went the distance, with Martin Gould first leading, then allowing Mark Williams to catch up, only to seal it in the decider. Audience favourite Shaun Murphy went out in the final frame against Ben Woollaston, probably the biggest upset of this first day. The Magician displayed his sense of humour when, hopelessly trailing and still not giving up, he called out to the audience “only five more” after achieving one wicked snooker, which prompted indeed a foul by Woollaston, but couldn’t save the night for the world no.4.
“So we saw eight matches, and can already assert: the Tempodrom Magic still works.”