Wuxi Classic 2012: Day One Round-Up

Day one in Wuxi and defending champion Mark Selby is through to the last 16, while the majority of the professionals in action during the wildcard round were able to come through unscathed. Not so Michael Holt and Dave Harold…

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In the build-up to the tournament, the talk was as to whether Mark Selby’s neck which he described as being ‘90%’ just a couple of days ago, would allow him to compete to the best of his ability at this early stage of the season as he took on Crucible conqueror Barry Hawkins once again. My own concern was not so much the injury itself, but instead the effect that this might have had on his ability to practice and come into this event on top of his game.

It seems however that we need not have worried, as today Mark passed his first test by recording top breaks of 120 and 101 in recorded a 5-2 win against the Shoot Out champion. Not only does the win see him through to the last 16 stage and a clash with either Martin Gould or Jamie Cope, but it is also an early boost to his bid to retain his world number one ranking for the foreseeable future.

With Joe Perry through without having to wield his cue following the withdrawal of Matthew Stevens ahead of the start of the tournament, the remaining action today came from the wildcard round as the likes of Jamie Burnett, Robert Milkins, Fergal O’Brien and Rod Lawler were able to avoid falling victim to the ever-dangerous invited group.

Michael Holt was not to be so lucky however, as he crashed out of the tournament to youngster Zhu Yinghui despite an opening frame break of 72 early in the session. Having performed as consistently as he has in the qualifying rounds of late, it is a shame that Holt was unable to make it through to what would have been a deserved place in the first-round proper.

Similarly, Dave Harold was to exit at the hands of Rouzi Maimaiti, a player whose previous results in ranking events offered little to suggest that an upset was on the cards, but raced into a 4-0 lead from which he never really looked back, splitting the next two to win 5-1.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Ken Doherty and Michael White will hope to avoid a similar fate in the final two remaining wildcard matches, while Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui get their tournaments underway…