John Higgins into China Championship

Ex-Champ John Higgins into China Championship

John Higgins comfortably qualified for the China Championship after a 5-1 defeat of Duane Jones at the Guild Hall in Preston on Tuesday.

John Higgins into China Championship
Higgins is the world number 4. Photo credit: World Snooker

The Scot, who won the inaugural staging of the tournament when it was originally held as an invitational in 2016, completed the routine win with a break of 109 in the last frame.

Once again, as has been the theme throughout this batch of preliminaries that have taken place over the last week or so, the higher ranked competitors enjoyed the best of the action.

Higgins’ countryman Anthony McGill’s season began slowly but he made it back-to-back qualifying round victories with a hard-fought 5-3 triumph over veteran Joe Swail.

David Gilbert, who suffered a painful loss in the final of the World Open earlier this month, continued his fine form of late with a 5-0 drubbing of Kishan Hirani, a scoreline that was matched by Barry Hawkins in his whitewash win against Simon Lichtenberg.

Former world champion Peter Ebdon was made to work hard but eventually came through against tour rookie Harvey Chandler while Michael White enjoyed a similar two-frame margin of victory in overcoming Oliver Lines.

Elsewhere, Anthony Hamilton maintained his 100% record in qualifying round encounters during this campaign so far with a 5-0 destruction of Soheil Vahedi.

The 2017 German Masters champion, whose form can be hindered by a recurring back injury, must be one the players who was able to take the most advantage from the longer off-season that occurred between campaigns this summer.

Vahedi’s fellow Iranian Hossein Vafaei was in better shape as the former amateur world champion defied a brace of tons from his opponent Chen Zifan for a 5-2 success.

Alexander Ursenbacher was another international cueist who impressed on the penultimate day of snooker in Preston with the young Swiss star thumping Ben Woollaston 5-0.

It was a poor day for the Chinese crop, though, with all three competing failing to make it beyond the cubicles and into their home event.

Chen was joined on the sidelines by Zhang Jiankang and Fan Zhengyi, who were dumped out of the competition by Mark King and Gary Wilson respectively.

Matthew Selt, Robert Milkins, and Jamie Jones were among the others to advance while Sam Craigie and Allan Taylor were the only two lower ranked players to upset the odds with their triumphs over stalwarts Dominic Dale and Alan McManus.

On Wednesday, the China Championship qualifiers will reach their conclusion with the likes of Ali Carter, Ricky Walden, and Ken Doherty entering the fray.

Live coverage will be on the Eurosport Player.

Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)

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