Welsh Open 2010: Day One Comments

The Totesport.com Welsh Open is now underway and already we have seen the exit of one top 16 player with another two hoping to avoid a similar fate tonight…

Provisional rankings now updated to Pinches/Murphy, further revision to come following tonight’s matches.

The first big name to crash out of the tournament was former world champion Peter Ebdon, though given his variable form this will not have come as a huge shock to many snooker fans. This means that as was the case a year ago, his provisional ranking remains outside of the top 16 and he will need to hope for another burst of form like that which saw him take the China Open title last year if he is to make sure he does not slip out of the elite.

The result is an excellent one for his conqueror Barry Hawkins however as he now awaits the winner of Stephen Maguire v Ryan Day. He remains unlikely to break back into the top 16 himself this season largely thanks to a couple of disappointing defeats in the Grand Prix and UK Championship qualifiers, but on his day he can threaten most players.

Elsewhere home favourite Matthew Stevens gave the Newport crowd something to cheer by winning his held over qualifying match 5-4, just as he did last year. Back then his victim was Andy Hicks and this time it was Barry Pinches as the Norwich cueman pushed him all the way, but could not quite get over the line. With more points than Hawkins it could be that Stevens can finally break back into the top 16 for the first time since 2005/6 if he can get a few more wins under his belt, though as is often the case it will be the World Championship that will be key.

A good win for Neil Robertson too today, though without intending to be disrespectful to his opponent Liu Song, I would have been very surprised had Neil not been able to win that particular contest.

Now in the evening session we have defending champion Ali Carter up against the dangerous qualifier Mark Davis, while Marco Fu – whose form ranges from awful in the Masters to sublime in the Championship League – takes on former Welsh finalist Andrew Higginson. I expect one seed to come through and one to go out, though I am not entirely sure which will be which…