Motorpoint Arena

John Higgins Wins Opener at Motorpoint Arena

John Higgins beat fellow Scot Graeme Dott 4-0 on the opening day of the Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Monday.

The defending champion will look to one of his favourite tournaments, in which he is a record five-time winner, to reignite his patchy form.

Higgins has fallen out of love with the game this season and has even threatened to retire if his fortunes don’t hastily improve.

The 43 year-old has reached the final of the last two World Championships at the Crucible but a brace of painful defeats in Sheffield have shattered his motivation levels.

The former world number one has emerged triumphantly in Wales in four out of the last nine editions, though, and he’ll hope his return can release a much-needed spark of positive energy into his mentality.

It was a busy first day at the Motorpoint Arena as the latest ranking event of a hectic month got under way barely twelve hours after the conclusion of the World Grand Prix.

Judd Trump captured that crown in Cheltenham with a 10-6 defeat of Ali Carter in the final but there was precious little opportunity for celebration as he was straight back in action for the final Home Nations series tournament this term.

Trump, who also won the prestigious Masters in January, continued his fine start to 2019 with a routine 4-0 victory over Harvey Chandler.

Home favourite Mark Williams, by contrast, was made to work a lot harder for his progress into the last 64.

The world champion was pushed all the way by countryman Kishan Hirani before ultimately squeezing through in a decider.

It wasn’t an especially good day for the Welsh contingent as the bid for a first local victory in 20 years began somewhat disappointingly.

Dominic Dale managed a 4-2 success over Li Yuan but fellow former ranking event winners Michael White, Ryan Day, and Matthew Stevens all bowed out.

White was downed by Peter Lines, Day lost 4-3 to the unpredictable Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, while Stevens exited at the hands of fellow Welshman Jak Jones.

Late in the Day, Daniel Wells was also accounted for following a 4-2 loss against Ross Muir.

Meanwhile, several seeds managed to make it beyond their opening tests with the likes of Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy, and Jack Lisowski advancing.

Liang Wenbo defied a terrific 140 total clearance from opponent Liam Highfield to deny the Englishman in a decider while Noppon Saengkham hit breaks of 66, 97, 102, and 90 to overturn a 3-0 deficit against Stuart Carrington.

Elsewhere, Ken Doherty maintained his push for a probable return to the top 64 in the world rankings with an assured 4-1 beating of Sean O’Sullivan.

Among a few of the others to join the Dubliner in the next round were Martin O’Donnell, Anthony Hamilton, and Yuan Sijun, who all recorded comprehensive whitewash scorelines.

However, 2013 champion Stephen Maguire is heading home following a 4-3 reverse against China’s Zhou Yuelong and Lukas Kleckers stunned veteran Peter Ebdon 4-0.

On Tuesday, the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Ding Junhui, and Neil Robertson enter the fray at the Motorpoint Arena.

Live coverage continues on Eurosport, Quest, and BBC Wales.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

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