Snooker News

China Open Conjures Shock Results

Day one in the China Open threw up quite a few surprises as the top 16 permutations were thrown wide open.

Ding Junhui Missed 147

Ding played well in the last few events but has he blown his chance? – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

It goes without saying that the China Open is one of the biggest and most established ranking events on the calendar, and therefore its stature as an important tournament to win is well founded.

However, this week also poses such an important question to those hovering around the top 16 bracket, where automatic qualification for the upcoming World Championship is at stake.

An incredible first day has seen the three players who were in prime position to challenge for the coveted spots all lose by considerable margins.

Currently languishing in the final two qualifying spots, Michael White and Ding Junhui suffered respective 5-1 defeats to Jack Lisowski and Lee Walker – the latter in the round of 128 as his match was carried over to the venue.

The man originally in prime position to catch them, Liang Wenbo, also lost unexpectedly in the first round to Peter Lines.

That they all, for want of a better word, choked, goes to show how much pressure was on each of their shoulders heading into this event.

Their inability to safeguard their positions has opened up the possibility for an unlikely charge from the chasing pack.

Liang’s chances have gone by the wayside but it’s highly possible that there’ll be no Chinese automatically registered at the Crucible as Ding hangs onto the final spot.

Clinging onto his coattails is Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, the former world no.2 who on Monday beat 2015 runner-up Gary Wilson to maintain his hopes of avoiding the dreaded qualifiers at Ponds Forge.

Working against Maguire is the fact that he needs a run to the semi-finals; working for him is that the draw has opened up considering White’s exit and world no.1 Mark Selby’s prior withdrawal due to personal reasons.

Also in the chasing pack are a number of competitors, including the likes of Robert Milkins, David Gilbert, Ben Woollaston and Graeme Dott – who all won on day one in Beijing – whereby collecting silverware on Sunday will result in their invitation to Sheffield.

It would take quite an unusual set of circumstances for White to lose his place among the top 16 but Ding’s position is certainly at peril.

For him to potentially miss out on a place at the World Championship – of course he could still emerge through the qualifiers – would have been unthinkable at the start of the campaign.

Elsewhere, there was a shock loss for Neil Robertson as the 2013 champion went down 5-3 to Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham while Alfie Burden inflicted an equally surprising heavy 5-0 defeat on Joe Perry.

It was more straightforward for Scotland’s John Higgins, though, who beat Zhou Yuelong 5-2 while two-time ranking event champion Dominic Dale overcame fellow Welshman Jamie Jones 5-1.

Meanwhile, Englishmen Michael Holt, Mark Joyce, Rory McLeod and Mike Dunn all won.

Matthew Selt and Chris Wakelin are tied 3-3 at the time of writing.

Click here to view the draw. 

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