Neil Robertson Starts Strongly in Cardiff

Neil Robertson beat Jimmy White 4-1 on the opening day of the Welsh Open to reach the second round in Cardiff on Monday.

Neil Robertson Crucible15
Robertson hasn’t won a ranking event since the Riga Masters last summer. Photo credit: Monique Limbos.

The pair traded 102 breaks before Robertson added his second century with a 111 to lead 2-1.

The Australian subsequently compiled runs of 54 and 57 to ease past the 54 year-old and maintain his bid for a second Welsh crown – ten years after collecting his first.

It was a busy day of action at the Motorpoint Arena as the last leg of the Home Nations series began amid plenty of deciding frame drama.

Ryan Day, who 24 hours earlier had failed in his attempt to capture a maiden ranking event title when he was defeated by Barry Hawkins in the final of the World Grand Prix, responded well as he came from 3-2 down to pip David Gilbert 4-3 with a high break of 100.

Day’s fellow Welshman Jackson Page, a 15 year-old wildcard who won the World Under-18 Championship in 2016, also staged a remarkable comeback.

Page, who had to take time off school in order to compete, fought back from 3-1 down to force a decider, before making a gutsy clearance which included a brilliant shot from pink to black to level the points and force a re-spotted black Рwhich he duly potted to the delight of the crowd to move into the last 64.

Two-time ranking event winner Dominic Dale advanced with greater ease thanks to a 4-0 drubbing of China’s Zhang Anda while Lee Walker earned a 4-2 victory over Rhys Clark.

It wasn’t all good new for the home support on day one, though, with Matthew Stevens exiting to Stuart Bingham, Ian Preece downed by John Astley, and Jak Jones losing out to Craig Steadman.

Elsewhere, German Masters champion Anthony Hamilton got back to winning ways as he edged Belgium’s Luca Brecel 4-2 while former Welsh winner Stephen Maguire had a century in beating Zhang Yong by the same scoreline.

Shaun Murphy moved into the second round thanks to a whitewash win, one of only five during the day’s play, with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Zhou Yuelong, Jamie Cope, and Paul Davison the others to enjoy a straightforward time of it.

Several marquee names will be hoping for a redo, though, after falling at the first hurdle.

Four-time champion John Higgins suffered a surprising 4-2 loss to Sam Baird while Ricky Walden and Kyren Wilson were sent home by Graeme Dott and Sean O’Sullivan respectively.

Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien ousted Cao Yupeng 4-1 in what was a forgettable day in general for the Chinese contingent in action, with Fang Xiongman losing to Kurt Maflin and Li Hang beaten by Mark Davis.

Tian Pengfei at least managed to join Zhou in the second round but that came at the expense of his countryman Chen Zhe.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Hossein Vafaei Ayouri, Jimmy Robertson, Ian Burns, Ross Muir, and amateur Adam Stefanow were the others to prevail in deciders.

Among the remaining players to progress were Alex Borg, Chris Wakelin, and Allan Taylor.

The Welsh Open continues on BBC Wales and Eurosport on Tuesday with the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan entering the fray against Tom Ford.

Click here to view the draw.

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