Royal London Watches Grand Prix 2008: Day One – Higgins eases into last 16

Only two matches were played today on the opening day of the 2008 Royal London Watches Grand Prix and it was to be John Higgins and Joe Perry who would join Judd Trump in the draw for the last 16 stage. Click below for the details…

John Higgins 5-0 Anthony Hamilton

World number five John Higgins eased into the second round with a comfortable win over Nottingham’s Anthony Hamilton this afternoon.

Higgins, who last won the Grand Prix back in 2005, took a long first frame before making it 2-0 with a clearance of 97. The third frame probably summed up Hamilton’s day best though as having got in first following a missed double from Higgins, he broke down on 47 following a wild bounce off the cushion. Higgins made no mistake and a break of 54 extended his lead to 3-0.

The writing was on the wall now as Higgins set an early benchmark for the high break prize with a total clearance of 134 before sealing the win straight after the interval with a run of 58.

John will be happy to perform well in front of his home crowd and get back on track after a disappointing time in Shanghai. He spoke last week about the need to find a balance between his career and the extensive promotional work that he has undertaken recently, admitting that he was not as well prepared for the last event as he might have been. Judging by today’s performance it seems that he might just be in much better shape, we shall see.

John Higgins 5-0 Anthony Hamilton 65(32)-41, 128(97c)-4, 71(54)-47(47), 134(134)-0, 68(58)-4

Joe Perry 5-3 Barry Hawkins

Initially it appeared that this would be another short match as Perry raced to an early lead, before Hawkins made things interesting with a spirited fightback. Ultimately though it was the in-form Perry who held things together and won two scrappy frames at the end to win the match.

Without scoring too heavily, Perry quickly moved into a 3-0 lead before Hawkins gave himself hope before the interval with a well-taken break of 75.

When play resumed Perry seemed to be strangely edgy as Hawkins’ fightback continued to gain momentum. Before long the match was level at 3-3 and it was Barry who now looked favourite.

Frame seven turned out to be crucial however as Hawkins again made the stronger start, eventually being faced with a tricky pink that would have made it 4-3. Much to commentator Willie Thorne’s dismay however, Barry decided to play safe instead and this proved to be costly as Perry was in and making a clearance of 56 within minutes. This was not without incident as following a heavy contact, the final pink wobbled in the jaws before dropping much to Joe’s relief. In went the black and it was 4-3 to Perry.

Frame eight was a similarly topsy-turvy affair as the reds went difficult and both had several chances to win the frame. Ultimately it was to be Hawkins who made the decisive error as he missed the final green by some distance and left everything open for Perry who was to make no mistake, sealing the frame and the match.

It was not the most impressive performance from Perry but he will just be glad to have emerged from a tricky match and be safely into the draw for the next round. Hawkins meanwhile will have to wait until the Bahrain qualifiers to get back on the table.

Joe Perry 5-3 Barry Hawkins 69(64)-25, 83(41)-24, 95(59)-19, 13-106(75), 44-61, 18-66, 72(56c)-60, 61-51