Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered a surprise 4-2 defeat to Marco Fu as his defence of the World Grand Prix prematurely ended in Cheltenham on Monday.
The second seed had been a huge favourite to progress from the first round against a player who hadn’t beaten him in ten years.
But despite losing the opening frame and then the fourth frame when he was 52 points in front, Fu played well to see off the reigning UK champion.
The 41 year-old missed several months of the last campaign after taking time out to undertake laser eye surgery.
His absence resulted in him dropping out of the top 16 in the world rankings and such was his plight that he even fell to as low as 50th in the provisional end-of-season standings.
Fu’s unexpected victory over the pre-tournament favourite will certainly provide him with the belief that he can rediscover his top form and it also significantly opens up the bottom quarter of the draw.
Barry Hawkins will represent the former Grand Prix champion’s second round challenge after the Englishman overcame Ryan Day 4-1.
In a repeat of the 2017 final that Hawkins also won, breaks of 130 and a tournament-high 143 total clearance helped the 39 year-old to advance.
Meanwhile, top seed Mark Allen wasn’t at his best but still had enough to edge into the last 16 courtesy of a 4-2 success against Gary Wilson.
Stuart Bingham’s brace of century breaks aided his 4-1 triumph as he also got off to a winning start at the Cheltenham Racecourse.
The first round continues on Tuesday with the likes of world champion Mark Williams and Masters winner Judd Trump entering the fray.
The World Grand Prix features the top 32 players on the one-year rankings list and is the first of three tournaments that makes up the inaugural Coral Cup series.