Snooker News

Seeds Surge into Last 16

Ten out of the top 11 seeds in the International Championship have booked their places in the third round in Daqing.

John Higgins 2015

Higgins could face home hero Ding in the quarter-final – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

The manner of the victories varied but the result was the same, ensuring most of the sport’s biggest stars remain in contention for China’s most lucrative ranking event title.

Defending champion John Higgins, world no.1 Mark Selby and third seed Stuart Bingham all recorded 6-2 triumphs to book their spots in the last 16 with relative ease.

Higgins, who beat David Gilbert this time last year to collect his 28th ranking trophy, raced into a 5-0 lead against Jak Jones on Tuesday before withstanding a mini revival from his young Welsh opponent to ease through.

The ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ will hope to continue his run but will face one of China’s most up-and-coming stars in Zhou Yuelong on Wednesday after the 18 year-old edged Mark Joyce 6-4.

Bingham also enjoyed success over a Welshman, knocking in a 125 as he ousted veteran Dominic Dale in similar fashion, while Selby compiled a century and five further breaks over 50 in his high-scoring defeat of John Astley.

For fourth seed Shaun Murphy, it was a much tougher outing as the new father narrowly outlasted talented teenager Yan Bingtao in a thrilling decider.

Murphy trailed the 16 year-old, who he had previously lost to in the 2015 Champion of Champions in Coventry, 5-4 and was also several points behind in the 11th frame, but managed to claw his way back to steal the win.

Yan’s pedigree is clear, though, and it will not be a surprise to see the young Chinese conjure many scalps over the course of the next couple of seasons.

Murphy will play fellow Englishman Sam Baird for a quarter-final berth after the latter followed up his excellent victory over Michael White with another stellar performance against former runner-up Marco Fu.

Meanwhile, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Ricky Walden each progressed following tight 6-4 triumphs.

O’Sullivan was embroiled in a tough battle with Kurt Maflin, who knocked in a superb 124 en route to establishing a healthy 4-3 advantage over the ‘Rocket’.

But the five-time world champion responded well and remains in the tournament despite having not yet approached anywhere near his peak condition.

Likewise, Robertson too fought back from a 4-3 deficit to Anthony Hamilton in a tie that was forced off before its climax due to slow play.

Walden overcame Graeme Dott 6-4 thanks to a 106 in the last frame to set up an intriguing battle of the former champions with Ding Junhui.

Ding, who only just squeezed past his held over qualifying round encounter on Sunday, impressed with a brace of tons as he got the better of Matthew Stevens.

Elsewhere, the two most recent ranking event winners raced into the next round with comprehensive 6-1 wins.

English Open champion Liang Wenbo routed compatriot Li Hang to set up a mouthwatering clash with world champion Mark Selby.

Trump, who lost to Liang in the Manchester final but prior to that emerged triumphant in the inaugural European Masters, hammered Tom Ford.

Arguably the story of the day is James Wattana, though, as the Thai legend booked his place in the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time since 2006.

Wattana, a former world no.3 and now 46 years-old, took advantage of his draw against amateur wildcard Xu Si to advance to a marquee meeting with Trump.

Late in the day, Ali Carter produced a stirring comeback from 5-2 behind to stun Stephen Maguire while Joe Perry and Michael Holt advanced as well as play ran just over midnight local time.

Click here to view the draw.

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