Ryan Day’s first defence of a ranking event ended in immediate disappointment as he lost 4-3 to Ali Carter in the last 64 of the Riga Masters on Friday.
The Welshman, who landed his maiden ranking title just over 12 months ago in the Latvian capital city, was handed a tough opener and couldn’t fend off the “Captain”, who compiled an excellent 77 clearance in the deciding frame to pinch the triumph.
While the result won’t be regarded as an upset in the slightest, with Carter actually being ranked five places higher than Day in the top 16 of the world rankings, there were a few other notable high-profile casualties.
Barry Hawkins, a former champion when the tournament was last staged as the Riga Open in 2015, was also denied in a final frame shoot out as Li Hang got the better of the former Crucible runner-up with a break of 84 to prevail 4-3.
Anthony McGill and Luca Brecel were also dumped out with respective 4-2 defeats against Ashley Carty and Mark Davis, possibly struggling to get up to speed after what was one of the lengthiest spells of inactivity in the sport for years.
On a very busy opening day to the first ranking event of the 2018/19 campaign, world champion Mark Williams didn’t let a replacement cue bother him as he edged Ben Woollaston with four half-century knocks.
Neil Robertson, the champion in 2016, was also in free-scoring form as he tallied an impressive six half-century breaks in overcoming Li Yuan 4-2.
Masters champion Mark Allen was made to work even harder for his place in the last 32, fighting back well from 3-1 down to pip Peter Lines at the death with a nail biting conclusion on the final colours.
It was a much handier encounter for Marco Fu, though, who demonstrated a potential return to form after his recovery from eye surgery with a well-managed 4-1 success against a tricky opponent in Xiao Guodong.
Meanwhile, last year’s runner-up Stephen Maguire won a scrappy exchange with Gerard Greene 4-1, Kyren Wilson hammered amateur Luke Simmonds in a whitewash while there were routine 4-0 outcomes for Shaun Murphy and Ricky Walden as well.
Elsewhere, former world champion Graeme Dott, who was in terrific resurgent form towards the end of last season, emerged from a scrappy affair with Tian Pengfei having early comfortably dispatched one of the two local amateur wildcards invited to compete in Latvia.
On a day of numerous deciding frame thrillers, German Lukas Kleckers matched his performance from last year by overcoming Robbie Williams, Michael White just about denied David Gilbert, Scott Donaldson held off Robin Hull, and Stuart Carrington constructed an excellent 110 century break to wrap up a 4-3 victory over Fergal O’Brien.
Among some of the other names to progress to the second round were stalwarts Joe Swail, Mark King, and Michael Holt, as well Chinese young duo Zhao Xintong and Zhang Yong.
Live coverage continues on Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)