China Open 2012: Legends Book Last 16 Spots

Day three in China saw the conclusion of the first round proper and it proved to be a good day for John Higgins, Mark Williams and eventually Ronnie O’Sullivan, who all booked their places in the last 16 with victories. Click below for a summary of the day’s action…

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Within my tournament preview I flagged up John Higgins and Mark Williams as two leading players in particular need of a run this week and both got off to a good start today with 5-1 victories against Rory McLeod and Jin Long respectively.

A strong result for Higgins in particular, the challenge for him now will be to make a run beyond the quarter-final stages of a full-ranking event for the first time this season ahead of the defence of his World Championship title at the Crucible next month and next in his way will be the man who defeated him here in the 2009 final, Peter Ebdon. Having previously qualified for the tournament, Ebdon today knocked out Welshman Matthew Stevens to secure an important haul of ranking points as he looks to compensate for a poor start to the season.

Mark Williams meanwhile will look to turn the tables against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the second round, after Ronnie recovered from 3-0 down to defeat Scotland’s Marcus Campbell in a final-frame decider. Having by all accounts looked out-of-sorts early in the match, O’Sullivan’s fortunes turned on a missed pink from Campbell when he was in with a chance to make it 4-0, only to give his illustrious opponent a way back into the match. Click here to read quotes from both Ronnie and Mark over at World Snooker, the latter’s being particularly interesting as he says that he is ‘nowhere near’ what he used to play like.

Elsewhere, Shaun Murphy was a surprise casualty at the hands of wildcard player Lu Ning, who having seen Murphy draw level at the interval having dropped the opening two frames, responded in fine style with back-to-back centuries on his way to a 5-2 success. To his credit, despite the recent criticism that has been made by many against the inclusion of wildcards, Shaun was gracious in defeat and took nothing away from his impressive opponent.

Stuart Bingham has experienced a mixed run of late, but scored well today from 4-2 down to defeat Joe Perry in a decider and set up a tie with defending champion Judd Trump in the next round. There was also good news for Ali Carter as the former Shanghai Masters champion came through a decider against Dominic Dale to get some valuable ranking points on the board and end his recent run of defeats in ranking events.

Finally, World Open champion Mark Allen found himself an early casualty as he lost 5-2 to Ricky Walden who strengthened his position inside the provisional top 16 with victory today.