Three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden exited the China Championship at the qualifiers stage after a heavy 5-0 defeat to Ian Preece on Sunday.
The whitewash reverse was his second in succession after losing 4-0 Cao Yupeng in the Riga Masters preliminaries.
Walden has been in bad form for the best part of a year and is also suffering from a recurring back injury which is clearly hindering his attempts to turn around his fortunes.
With a further two months off before Walden’s next entry, the 34 year-old will be desperate to mend the situation before his slide down the rankings becomes too perilous.
To give credit where it’s due, Welshman Preece performed well with runs of 100, 80, and 59 helping him to the straightforward victory.
Meanwhile, Barry Hawkins sensationally avoided an early exit as he launched an unlikely comeback from 4-0 down to deny John Astley in a decider.
Hawkins, who has famously been on the wrong end of several fight backs in the past, tallied breaks of 104, 96, and a pair of 56s to stun his fellow Englishman.
Ali Carter was much more efficient as he powered past Ross Muir 5-2 while German Masters champion Anthony Hamilton held off a late charge from Robin Hull for a 5-3 success.
Elsewhere, Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien knocked in four half-centuries as he battled in trademark fashion to a 5-3 triumph against Sam Craigie.
Another veteran, Peter Ebdon, continued his strong start to the new season, ensuring he will feature at the venue stages of both early ranking events following a 5-3 defeat of Nigel Bond.
David Grace and Aditya Mehta prevailed in the other two ties which went the distance at the Guild Hall, overcoming Mei Xiwen and Robbie Williams respectively.
Ben Woollaston held off newcomer Lukas Kleckers 5-3 while Kurt Maflin and Rory McLeod recorded similar scorelines to progress.
Finally, Mark Davis scored heavily with a century and five further breaks above 50 in a 5-2 win over Alexander Ursenbacher.
On Monday, Judd Trump and Marco Fu are among those in action.
Categories: Snooker News