Ricky Walden beat Masters champion Neil Robertson 5-3 to progress to the last 16 as the German Masters commenced on Wednesday in Berlin.
It was a welcome first day of action, with the popular ranking event returning to the terrific Tempodrom following last year’s edition that was forced behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
Former champion Kyren Wilson, UK Championship winner Zhao Xintong, and Scottish Open victor Luca Brecel were among the other names to advance to the second round.
After a mostly scrappy opening half to the contest, Walden sprung to life in the last few frames with breaks of 71, 79, and 124 helping him to oust the Australian, one of the pre-tournament favourites.
The Englishman is not only looking to challenge for a fourth career ranking success this week but a place in next month’s lucrative Players Championship as well.
“I was really pleased to stick in there,” Walden told the World Snooker Tour after a victory that takes him up to 13th on the provisional Race to the Players Championship standings, with the top 16 qualifying for Wolverhampton.
“We both missed a few balls up until 3-3 to be honest and we both made a few breaks as well, so just to hang in there was pleasing. I made a couple of good clearances and finished off strong in the end.”
“They are the hardest games to be honest, you’re playing someone in top form who is obviously a seed, on a TV table where they are more at home if you like.
“It’s a difficult hurdle to overcome, you’ve got to just stick in there and try, so to get that win can give you a good springboard.
“It’s amazing (to be playing abroad). Checking the cue in at the airport feels normal again and we’ve gone so long without travelling.
“Even going over to Belfast for the Northern Ireland Open was a nice experience, because we didn’t play behind closed doors and all that kind of thing.
“So it’s good to be back on a flight and it’s great to be back in Germany. Hopefully, we can keep going through the season now, everyone gets healthy, and we can keep going.
“It’s an amazing venue and I’ve missed out on it a few times over the years. You’re always gutted being back home knowing this is being played in front of all the fans, so it’s good to be here – it’s a unique venue and like nothing else.”
Meanwhile, 2019 champion Wilson compiled a century and three additional runs above 50 in a 5-1 thumping of Jimmy Robertson, while Zhao got the better of two-time former winner Mark Williams.
The Chinese’s 5-3 victory was matched by Brecel in his defeat of Zhang Anda, with Zhou Yuelong and Tom Form recording 5-2 triumphs over Scotsmen Anthony McGill and Stephen Maguire respectively.
Craig Steadman was the other player to move forward to the last 16 of the competition courtesy of a 5-2 ousting of amateur Michael Georgiou.
On Thursday, the first round concludes with world champion Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, and Ken Doherty among those set to participate.
Judd Trump w/o Gao Yang
Anthony McGill 2-5 Zhou Yuelong
Tom Ford 5-2 Stephen Maguire
Zhao Xintong 5-3 Mark Williams
Kyren Wilson 5-1 Jimmy Robertson
Michael Georgiou 2-5 Craig Steadman
Zhang Anda 3-5 Luca Brecel
Ricky Walden 5-3 Neil Robertson
Andrew Higginson w/o Liang Wenbo
Liam Highfield vs Fan Zhengyi (Thursday, 9am)
Lyu Haotian vs Mark Allen (Thursday, 9am)
Kurt Maflin vs Shaun Murphy (Thursday, 2pm)
Noppon Saengkham vs Ryan Day (Thursday, 2pm)
Sam Craigie vs Ken Doherty (Thursday, 2pm)
David Gilbert vs Yan Bingtao (Thursday, 2pm)
Barry Pinches vs Mark Selby (Thursday, 9am)
Live coverage of the 2022 German Masters will be available in Ireland, Britain, and across Europe via Eurosport. Other options are available by clicking here.
Featured photo credit: WST