World Open 2012: Williams Out, Selby Survives

Trailing Chinese wildcard Lu Ning 2-0 following the early exchanges today, world number one Mark Selby recovered to book his place in the second round, but second ranked player Mark Williams was not so able, falling 5-1 to Mark King in the early session…

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Mark Selby extended his impressive run at the last 32 stage of full-ranking events by defeating local wildcard and conqueror of Nigel Bond Lu Ning this morning, though not without a fright as he dropped the opening two frames of the match. From there he was able to draw level at the mid-session interval with a top break of 108 and though Lu was able to regain the lead at 3-2, the final three frames were to go the way of the world number one.

A commonly question that I receive on Twitter is ‘how is Mark Selby ranked at number one?’ and while his relatively regular runs to major finals are a large part of it, so too is his consistency in the early rounds of events. Including PTC events, this win marks his 38th opening match win from his past 40 ranking event tournaments (including PTCs), which is a record that I doubt many would be able to match.

Mark commented:

“The game was tough and I’d never seen Lu play before so didn’t know what to expect but he’s got a good game, a great future and he put me under pressure today. I don’t think I played fantastic but he gave me some chances.”

Another man who once had an outstanding record in his opening round matches was Welshman Mark Williams, but the former world champion was a 5-1 loser today against Mark King in the opening session. Opening the match with a break of 94, from there King never really looked back and despite losing the frame prior to the interval following a misjudged attempt to roll up behind the brown, made amends by wrapping up the win with a break of 71. A disappointing result for Williams, who out of interest sported a glove today, his indifferent form since the start of the season continues while King has given his hopes of retaining a place inside the top 32 a boost and will now meet Tom Ford for a place in the quarter-finals.

Elsewhere, Neil Robertson exacted swift revenge upon Stephen Hendry following his recent defeat to the Scot at the Welsh Open with a 5-3 victory today. The match was not of the highest quality throughout but despite a determined comeback by Hendry from 4-1 to 4-3, it was the Australian who was able to get over the line and move into the next round. At times the match appeared to be affected by some problems with the table and Neil mentioned this later on Twitter:

“Very pleased to get through but the floor is very unstable so the balls roll off. Feels like I’m walking around on a bowl of coco pops! Haha”

Others through to the last 16 today included Robert Milkins, who upset the in-form Stephen Maguire with a 5-3 to set up a tie with Jin Long, while Jamie Cope recovered a 4-2 deficit against Martin Gould to come through in a deciding frame.

Mark Allen meanwhile is evidently not a player enjoying the conditions in China judging by his tweets, but he nevertheless managed to win his match against fellow On Q player Jimmy Robertson today in a close match, despite the rather misleading 5-1 scoreline.