China Open

Barry Hawkins Qualifies for Latvia

Barry Hawkins and Kyren Wilson were among the top players who advanced from Riga Masters qualifying on Thursday in Preston.

Barry Hawkins Crucible15
Hawkins won the World Grand Prix last season. Photo credit: Monique Limbos

Hawkins, the second seed in the absence of several of the world’s best from the opening tournament of the new campaign, was handed one of the hardest ties in the open draw against 2016┬árunner-up Michael Holt.

However, the World Championship semi-finalist showed few signs of rustiness with four half century breaks helping him to a 4-2 defeat of his fellow Englishman.

Wilson had a much easier time of it against Alfie Burden, running out a comfortable 4-0 winner aided by breaks of 70 and 61.

In keeping with how the first day unfolded, there weren’t many upsets of note to talk about with Martin Gould’s early exit on Wednesday remaining the highest profile casualty so far.

German Masters champion Anthony Hamilton, in with a huge chance of a return to the top 16 this season given the fact that he has zero ranking points to defend, lost the last two frames in a gruelling deciding frame defeat to Hossein Vafaei Ayouri.

Joe Perry avoided a similar fate, holding off former world champion Graeme Dott by the same margin.

Another Scot, Stephen Maguire, reeled off breaks of 78, 68, and 57 as he began the new term strongly with a 4-0 rout of Ian Burns.

Maguire had struggled for a long period until rediscovering some form towards the end of last season, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can take that confidence into the first few events of the summer.

Meanwhile, Welshman Ryan Day also scored quite heavily as he enjoyed a 4-1 triumph over David John.

Countryman Ben Jones became the first of the amateurs, who have been invited to make up the numbers, to reach the last 64 after a 4-1 success over Mike Dunn.

Elsewhere, young Chinese star Zhou Yuelong whitewashed Kurt Dunham 4-0, with Chen Zifan and Tian Pengfei joining him on the plane to Latvia later in June.

There were straightforward 4-1 victories for Ben Woollaston, Robert Milkins, and Mark Joyce while Craig Steadman matched the three-frame winning margin with a 101 in his defeat of Lu Haotian.

By contrast, Oliver Lines and Christopher Keogan required all seven frames as they edged Yuan Sijun and Sean O’Sullivan respectively.

Finally, Gerard Greene marked his return to the professional scene with a 4-1 triumph against Zhang Yong.

The Riga Masters qualifying will conclude on Friday with the likes of Mark Allen and Shaun Murphy in action.

Click here to view the draw.

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