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Mark Allen Begins Well in Northern Ireland Open

The 34 year-old will be disappointed not to be able to play his home event on home soil.

Mark Allen comfortably won his opening Northern Ireland Open fixture on Tuesday – beating Anthony Hamilton 4-0 in Milton Keynes.

The recent Champion of Champions winner started with a break of 94 and improved on that with further contributions of 111 and 125 to power through to the last 64.

Allen has often struggled for top form in the Northern Ireland Open, with the Antrim man having never previously reached beyond the quarter-final stage.

While he undoubtedly would prefer to be playing at the event’s usual venue in Belfast, competing at the Marshall Arena may reduce the expectation on his shoulders to perform in what is usually his local competition.

The majority of the marquee names advanced on the second day of action as the first round reached its climax at the Marshall Arena.

John Higgins also recorded a bagel as he thumped Daniel Wells with a high break of 144, while Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham beat Andrew Higginson and Oliver Lines 4-1 respectively.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, who has recently broken into the top 16 in the world rankings, overcame Peter Devlin 4-2 and Ding Junhui coasted to a 4-0 victory against Eden Sharav.

Four of Ding’s Chinese compatriots additionally reached the second round with Zhao Xintong, Liang Wenbo, Yuan Sijun, and Zhao Jianbo all winning their opening clashes in this week’s ranking event.

Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Mark King, the inaugural Northern Ireland Open champion from 2016, who bowed out following a 4-2 reverse against Zak Surety.

Graeme Dott was the highest-ranked casualty of a busy day as the former world champion exited in a 4-2 loss to Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo.

Among the others to qualify for the next stage were former ranking event winners Barry Hawkins, Joe Perry, Ali Carter, and Matthew Stevens.

Elsewhere, world number three Neil Robertson received a bye as a result of his opponent Declan Lavery’s positive COVID-19 result.

On Wednesday, the Northern Ireland Open continues with the round of 64, with live coverage available on Eurosport, Quest, and various other services.

Click here to view the draw – scheduled times in CET.

Featured photo credit: WST

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