Neil Robertson has set his sights on a Home Nations slam after reaching the last 32 of the Northern Ireland Open on Monday in Belfast.
With previous triumphs in the English, Scottish, and Welsh Opens, the Australian would become the first player to complete the set if he were to go all the way at the Waterfront Hall.
Robertson, who already has silverware this term after winning the World Mixed Doubles alongside Mink Nutcharut, ousted Fan Zhengyi 4-2 in the last 64.
“I did enough to get through, I didn’t really do anything too exciting,” Robertson told the World Snooker Tour after moving to within five victories of the Home Nations slam.
“You’re not really analysing performances too much early on in events – you just want to get through the early rounds, especially with best of sevens.”
“You can’t really get on the practice tables before your matches, because it’s booked up with people that are still just arriving.
“The practice tables will generally start to free up a bit more now, so then I’ll start to search for a bit more form.
“There’s an extra incentive and motivation, because nobody has ever won all four (Home Nations events).
“It’d be nice to be the first person to win all four. You get these beautiful replica trophies made out of the crystal, and I’ve got all three sat in my man cave.
“It would be lovely to have all four, it would be really cool, and that’s the motivation I’m kind of searching for in my career now.
“I’m not looking to win my first tournament. I’m trying to kind of complete little sets here and there, which is a nice position to be in.
“I’ve not really done well in this tournament in previous years, so it would be nice to go deep in the event.
“The venue is set up really well for a good crowd for later on in the week.
“I remember what the atmosphere was like with Mark Allen and John Higgins for the final (in 2021), so it would be awesome to get to that later stage.”
Elsewhere, it was generally another strong day for the favourites with reigning champion Mark Allen and 2017 winner Mark Williams among the others reaching the third round of the competition.
Allen scored heavily with breaks of 102, 92, 85, and 50 helping him to a whitewash defeat of Chen Zifan.
Welshman Williams was pushed harder but still managed to emerge a 4-2 winner against Alexander Ursenbacher, compiling a 139 in the process.
Mark Selby recorded a similar success after six frames with Sam Craigie, while Jordan Brown joined compatriot Allen at the next stage with a 4-2 beating of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Stephen Maguire and Hossein Vafaei were other notable names to make it through, the former needing all seven frames to prevail in a deciding frame against Zak Surety.
Andy Lee and John Astley also won 4-3, with Xiao Guodong and Jimmy Robertson enjoying a more routine time of it against Mink Nutcharut and Andy Hicks respectively.
Earlier in the day, John Higgins held off Fergal O’Brien in one of the remaining heldover fixtures.
However, Jack Lisowski exited the event at the first hurdle, with conqueror Li Hang proceeding to reach the last 32 later in the day with a second victory against Si Jiahui.
On Tuesday, the play continues with three-time Northern Ireland Open champion Judd Trump among those returning to the fray.
Live coverage is available via Eurosport and Quest in the UK and Ireland, with other options around the world also available.
Featured photo credit: WST