Monday at the Newport Centre and today we have seen the start of the last 64 of the Welsh Open, as the television coverage got underway on BBC2 Wales and Eurosport…
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Reigning Welsh Open champion Stephen Maguire moved into the last 32 of this year’s tournament today, but not without a scare as he fell 3-1 down against the in-form Sam Baird.
Having taken the opening frame, Maguire would score just five points in the next two as Baird hit the front with breaks of 75 and 60, before he moved one away from a landmark victory by taking a close fourth.
When I saw that Baird had moved 3-1 ahead, I couldn’t help but think back to two years ago in Newport, when the world number 75 let slip a similar advantage against Mark Selby. Whether Sam thought of that I don’t know, but today would prove to be a similar story.
Sam had the upper hand of the early exchanges in frame five, but could not take his chances and from there it was Maguire who restricted his opponent to just 16 points in the final two frames as he came back to keep his title defence alive.
He told reporters post-match that he is currently struggling with a back injury and next up for him will be a local player in the form of Welshman Andrew Pagett, who today won the last two frames against Gerard Greene today to move into the last 31 of a full ranking event for the first time since he qualified for the 2011 World Championship.
As well as Maguire, there was also a victory for fellow Scot John Higgins this evening, who despite making a top break of just 47, was able to whitewash Ken Doherty in a repeat of their 1998 World Championship final. Judd Trump was another who did not score particularly heavily with a high break of only 49 against Jamie Burnett, but managed to come through a deceptively close encounter a 4-1 winner.
Mark Selby was another big name to come through unscathed against Dave Harold, while Mark Allen and Joe Perry boosted their hopes of a Crucible seeding with victories against Noppon Saengkham and Liu Chuang respectively.
The same could not be said for Mark Davis, who lost out 4-3 to the ever-improving Joel Walker today, while Scott Donaldson was another potentially rising star who was able to score an impressive victory against David Gilbert.
The highest break of the day came from Welshman Michael White, who hit a top run of 139 during the third frame of his match with China’s Xiao Guodong, but could not convert a 3-2 advantage into a victory.
There was however better news for another local favourite, as Matthew Stevens saw off Ian Burns on the TV table to book his place in the last 32.