Ronnie O’Sullivan Starts Well in Guangzhou
The majority of the marquee names advanced into the last 32 as the first round of the China Championship reached its conclusion on Thursday in Guangzhou.
Stars Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby comfortably progressed with relatively straight forward triumphs against Sam Baird and Noppon Saengkham respectively.
The pair of Englishmen scored heavily, each finishing their victories off with century breaks as they both contest a first ranking event of the new campaign.
Later in the day, home favourite Ding Junhui and Judd Trump also booked their spots in the second round with a couple of 5-2 wins.
Ding had to wait in his seat as Alfie Burden began their encounter with a ton but the Chinese number one soon grabbed control, finishing with a flourish and an excellent 128 of his own.
Trump knocked in a 105 and three further runs above 50, including a 97 that ended when he missed the 13th black en route to a 147, as he dispatched of Daniel Wells in a high-quality affair.
The 27 year-old will meet 2006 world champion Graeme Dott in the next round and, if he can overcome that challenge, he’ll potentially be faced with a mouthwatering tie against the “Rocket” on Saturday.
Elsewhere, John Higgins, Mark Williams, Marco Fu, and Ryan Day all enjoyed success as they continued their hunt for the £150,000 top prize in one of China’s biggest cities.
Defending champion Higgins required only 59 minutes on the opening day as he coasted beyond his held over preliminary round match.
The Scot needed longer against Chris Wakelin and was one of the last to come off this evening but had plenty to spare again as he ousted his English opponent 5-2.
Williams, runner-up in the last ranking event in China in April, compiled breaks of 115, 99, 77, and 60 as he confidently overcame Tian Pengfei 5-2.
Hong Kong’s Fu wasn’t at his best but fought back from behind to beat Hossein Vafaei Ayouri 5-3 while Riga Masters champion Day held off Cao Yupeng for glory with a similar scoreline.
The biggest upset of the day came in the form of Matthew Stevens’ deciding frame clincher against Mark Allen.
In a mostly scrappy fixture, Allen appeared to have got things under control, having at one stage trailed 2-1, when he subsequently led 4-2 and established a 63 point advantage in the seventh frame.
Yet, Stevens responded with a gutsy 70 clearance to stay alive and from there the former UK and Masters champion dominated to steal the victory at the death.
Young Chinese talent Zhou Yuelong fought back in likewise fashion, constructing tallies of 104, 94, and 80 as he surprised compatriot Chen Zifan 5-4 from two frames adrift as well.
It was more straightforward for Martin Gould and Luca Brecel, who recorded 5-2 defeats of Andrew Higginson and Jimmy Robertson respectively.
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh also won 5-2 against Michael Holt despite not being at his free-scoring best, while Allan Taylor and Michael White were the other winners on a busy second day of action.
Coverage continues on Eurosport.