Neil Robertson was among a group of marquee names to make it through to the last 32 of the World Open on Tuesday in Yushan.
The Australian, who immediately bounced back from a relatively quiet season by his high standards with a resounding triumph in the Riga Masters to commence the new campaign, was again in dominant form as he saw off the challenge of Andy Lee 5-1.
With breaks of 134 and 114, Robertson’s early season centuries tally is already at the dozen mark, leading many to predict a possible challenge to break the amazing record of 103 in a single term that he accomplished a few years back.
It was a relatively straightforward day for the majority of the heavier hitters, although a couple of the bigger names were involved in tight enough affairs before eventually sealing their berths in the second round.
Local favourite and the defending champion Ding Junhui trailed young countryman Yuan Sijun 3-1 at the mid-session interval but produced a clinical display of punishing snooker after the restart.
Ding took advantage of his opponent’s obvious nerves with clean runs of 86, 87, and 115 sending him through – all the while as he waits for his wife Apple to give birth to their first child in the coming days.
World number one Mark Selby was another 5-3 winner, holding off a spirited performance from Elliot Slessor in a mostly scrappy affair that won’t live too long in the memory.
Selby didn’t play in Latvia but did compete in the Haining Open last week, a pro-am event that the 35 year-old succeeded in for the second successive season.
Meanwhile, world champion Mark Williams advanced with breaks of 104, 61, 60, and 52 helping him comfortably overcome Alexander Ursenbacher 5-1 while Judd Trump and Mark Allen repeated that scoreline against Martin O’Donnell and Lyu Haotian respectively.
Allen, a two-time World Open champion, is set to be involved in one of the second round’s most eye-catching fixtures as he takes on fellow quick player and high scoring machine Jack Lisowski – in what is arguably the match of the round.
Unfortunately, the powers that be have ignored this and chosen to neglect putting this game on one of the TV tables, which is a real shame considering it has the makings of an attractive, fast-paced clash that could provide a lot of high breaks and entertaining snooker.
Elsewhere, Kyren Wilson knocked in four half century breaks in another 5-1 scoreline as he hammered Paul Davison and Yan Bingtao, one of four Chinese competitors remaining in the draw, went one better with a whitewash pummelling of Stuart Carrington.
There was a 5-3 win for Michael Holt over Mark Davis on his 40th birthday while Joe Perry fought back from 4-3 down to deny Mike Dunn in a decider.
Two other encounters went the distance with tour rookie Harvey Chandler, the reigning European amateur champion, pinching a 5-4 triumph against Kurt Maflin and Andrew Higginson sensationally coming from 4-1 down to cruelly deny amateur James Cahill at the death.
Among the others to progress to the next stage were Xiao Guodong, Mei Xiwen, Anthony Hamilton, and Ben Woollaston.