Judd Trump didn’t waste much time as he romped to a speedy 4-0 victory over Martin O’Donnell in his held over qualifying round match on day one of the European Masters in Belgium.
The defending champion knocked in breaks of 114, 76, and 52 on Monday as he coasted into the first round proper to set up a meeting with fellow Englishman Liam Highfield.
Trump has won the last two editions of the European Masters and is among the favourites this year again in the snooker betting odds with the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, and John Higgins not in the draw.
Home favourite Luca Brecel wasn’t quite as convincing in his preliminary tie against Daniel Wells but the 23 year-old still managed to emerge courtesy of a scrappy 4-2 triumph.
Brecel has been in poor form for the best part of a year so he’ll be hoping to make the most of the support in Lommel to reignite his game.
Meanwhile, in the last 64 there were wins for former ranking event winners Kyren Wilson, Ryan Day, and Anthony McGill – three competitors who could potentially challenge for the title come the weekend’s action.
Paul Hunter Classic champion Wilson beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-1, a scoreline matched by Day in his defeat of Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun, while Scotland’s McGill left it late in the day to hold off countryman Chris Totten in a decider.
The in-form Jack Lisowski, who reached the final of the Riga Masters at the outset of the campaign and has been a contender in other events as well, compiled a brace of centuries to see off Duane Jones 4-1.
Former world champion Stuart Bingham, the runner-up to Trump in 2017, and Joe Perry also enjoyed three-frame margins of success, overcoming Chris Wakelin and Oliver Lines respectively.
There weren’t any major shocks of note, although Marco Fu suffered a 4-3 defeat to tenacious Irishman Fergal O’Brien, who has produced a few decent displays this term.
Among the others to advance to the last 32 in the European Masters were Anthony Hamilton, Zhang Anda, Peter Lines, and Allan Taylor.
On Tuesday, world number one Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, and Mark Allen enter the fray.