Day two of the German Masters and already we are at the conclusion of the last 32 stage, with world number one Ding Junhui one of four top 16 players to fall at the first hurdle in Berlin.
Click below for my round-up of the opening round action at the venue and confirmation as to why Ding will now lose the sport’s top ranking for a second time after the event…
Ding Junhui’s match with Ryan Day this morning always had the look of a 50-50 contest before a ball was struck and so it proved, as Ryan narrowly edged out the world number one in a deciding frame at the Tempodrom.
Meeting in a repeat of their high-quality semi-final 12 months ago, it was Ryan who made the stronger start with his long potting in particular standing out, but misses from a shorter distance allowed his opponent into the match as to the two traded frames ahead of the mid-session interval.
On their resumption it was Ding who having moved into a 4-3 lead, looked as though he might be able to get over the line without the need for a decider, but a missed pink with the rest proved costly and from there Ryan was able to take the frame, before adding a run of 82 in the final frame to win.
Every credit to Ryan, who is playing as well as he has for some time at the moment and will have fancied his chances having previously beaten Ding on the big stage, most notably at the World and UK Championships in 2012. The Welshman now moves on to a clash with Alfie Burden, who saw off Michael Georgiou 5-3 this morning.
For Ding though it marks yet another early exit at a full-ranking event this season as he continues to search for the consistency that took him to five ranking event titles in 2013/14. Clearly, he is too good a player not to turn it around sooner or later and I found it to be quite telling that he spoke following his match of the fact that he should have perhaps played more this season, for example at European Tour events.
The result also means that Ding will be overtaken at the top of the rankings following this event, after Ronnie O’Sullivan impressed in his 5-1 victory against Mark Davis this afternoon. It was actually Davis who claimed the opener with an excellent century break, but from there O’Sullivan took command, runs of 117, 93, 68, 62 and 51 seeing him comfortably into the second round and a clash with Joe Perry.
Aside from O’Sullivan, both Neil Robertson and Mark Selby also remain in with a chance of taking back the top ranking, having come through yesterday against Fergal O’Brien and Anthony McGill respectively. For Selby, not long back following his involvement in a pool competition in China as recently as this Monday, it was a difficult match and one that he did well to come through a 5-4 winner.
Robertson meanwhile enjoyed far smoother progress against the Irish number one and will now meet Xiao Guodong, who won the last two frames from behind against Liam Highfield to sneak through 5-4.
There were also straightforward wins for Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump, but it was not to be the case for fifth seed Barry Hawkins, who exited yesterday at the hands of Mark King, who is enjoying his best run of the season here in Germany. Next up for him will be Scotland’s Stephen Maguire, who from 4-0 resisted a comeback attempt from David Gilbert to progress a 5-3 winner, continuing his strong form of late.
Finally, Liang Wenbo was able to come out on top of his all-Chinese match-up with Li Hang in the final match of the round to finish and will now play Stuart Bingham, who edged a high-quality match with the in-form Matt Selt this morning.
The last 16 starts this evening at 7pm UK time…