Rookie Lukas Kleckers produced a gutsy performance to beat defending champion Neil Robertson in the last 64 of the Riga Masters on Friday.
The German was playing in only his second match as a professional and the upset represents his first victory since he got upgraded from an amateur after graduating from May’s Q School.
Kleckers came from 3-2 behind, first forcing a decider before then compiling a cool run of 83 in the last frame for a memorable triumph over the Australian.
The 21 year-old brings with him plenty of expectation as he makes his maiden voyage onto the Main Tour.
Kleckers is a former multiple national champion at both senior and underage levels, and this victory will only heighten the hopes in his home country that they finally have a star to get their enthusiastic support behind.
For Robertson, it marks another disappointing tournament in a year full of them since his last success at a ranking event in this very tournament twelve months ago.
The 35 year-old had emerged triumphant in the first ranker of the season in three out of the last four years, but still doesn’t look anywhere near his best.
It’s a long and busy season ahead but Robertson will be desperate to turn his fortunes around quickly before any potential slide down the rankings occurs.
Meanwhile, it was an excellent day in general for European snooker as Luca Brecel, Alexander Ursenbacher, and Robin Hull all moved into the last 32.
Belgium’s Brecel, who knocked out Shaun Murphy in Preston to qualify a few weeks ago, edged Lee Walker 4-3 to set up an intriguing tie against another Welshman in Mark Williams.
Williams took the spoils in a one-sided battle of former world champions with Peter Ebdon 4-1, and will be rightly considered as one of the favourites this weekend with so many of the marquee names either out already or not entered in the tournament.
Finland’s Hull knocked in a 135 break en route to overcoming Latvian amateur wildcard Rodion Judin 4-2 while Alexander Ursenbacher of Switzerland produced a scintillating display with tallies of 139, 88, 78, and 76 in inflicting a 4-0 drubbing on Elliot Slessor – who scored just four points in reply.
Of the higher seeds, Stuart Bingham tamely bowed out in a 4-0 defeat to Mark Davis while Barry Hawkins, the highest ranked player in the tournament after Mark Selby’s withdrawal, was pipped 4-3 by Ryan Day.
Day, along with many others in the draw, will surely be starting to consider this competition as a huge opportunity to bag a maiden ranking event trophy.
Scottish duo Stephen Maguire and Anthony McGill, along with English pair Kyren Wilson and Joe Perry, all still feature, though, after contrasting early wins.
Maguire in particular looked impressive as he reeled off three half centuries in confidently beating Gerard Greene 4-0.
It’s been a difficult couple of years for the former UK champion but he began to show signs of a return to form at the tail end of last season and there’s definitely an opportunity for him here to continue that revival.
Elsewhere, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White underlined that they’re taking their invitational tour cards very seriously with triumphs over Gary Wilson and Eden Sharav respectively.
The Whirlwind required all seven frames in squeezing passed Sharav but Doherty coasted with a 4-0 scoreline to continue his unbeaten start to the season.
The two legends are on a collision course to meet each other in the quarter-finals but have two clashes on Saturday to first overcome.
Oliver Lines, Jack Lisowski, and Sam Baird were among the other players to advance from the opening day of action.
Coverage continues on Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw. (Times CET)
Categories: Snooker News