Welsh Open 2011 - Day 1

14:42:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

Dave Harold after winning a very tight match
A very good start for this year’s Welsh Open tournament as the first day was filled with great matches. Too bad that the audience wasn’t very packet, but I’m guessing that’s how things go in the early stages. Still, some top matches and some really top snooker was played, a few surprises here and there, wonderful clearances and great century breaks - that’s how day one was. :-)

Two opening matches and two big surprises for the large public, as Ding Junhui wasn’t at his best in the match played against Marcus Campbell on one side and Dave Harold took another victory into his hands, while playing Ricky Walden, on the other. But let’s see the first match closely, shall we?
It wasn’t very hard for Campbell to take the lead over Ding, as the little Chinese didn’t seem to get his way through the balls, so the Scot’s runs of 41 and 63 put him two frames ahead. This year’s Masters champion rushed in, although not in a very good form, as to make a total comeback (that will eventually save him a place into the next round) and even take the lead for the first time since the beginning of the match (a break of 125 securing it). At 3-2, "The Chinese Sensation" was with one foot into the Last 16 round, when Campbell hit a 51 break which brought the match into a decider, a decider that was eventually won by Ding, with a top break of 103. He took some time for getting into the mood for snooker, but he finally did it - Ding is though to the next round.

Matthew Stevens in action at Newport
Another match that ended on a decider was the one between Ricky Walden and Dave Harold, a match with a very unexpected final, for many of us. Harold took the opening frame with a good and steady 80 break, but Walden stormed in as to take the next three (break of 78 and 58 included) to set the score at 3-1. But our strategist took his time into potting every possible ball as to win one frame at a time and levelling up at 3-3. The game was on, one more time! The last frame was Walden’s from the beginning, but he overcut a black this bringing Harold to the table (at that time, the score was 55-2 in favor of Ricky). In the end the match ended up on the colors, colors that Dave potted carefully as to clear the table and win just by two tiny but very precious points. Never say never until the last ball is potted ;-) Great win for Harold!

Next in line were Matthew Stevens and Anthony Hamilton, the first match that marked the beginning of the qualifiers (you know that we had two matches left from the qualifying rounds, right?), match carefully observed and referred by Paul Collier.

End of run for the "Sheriff of Pottingham"
"The Sheriff of Pottingham" opened the score, by taking over the first frame, but Stevens equalised right away, from that moment on, the boys sharing frames until the score reached 3-2, in favor of the Welshman. The 6th frame was a very scrappy one, but in the end runs of 22 and 32 brought Stevens the victory, his next opponent being Shaun Murphy.
At the same time, at a near table the match between Ali Carter and Barry Hawkins was on, a match where Barry lead 2-1, due to hitting in breaks of 46, 33 and 68, but unfortunately lost in the decider. "Captain" Carter seemed to be struggling in getting in form and he made so many mistakes that could have cost him the match, but in the end he was wise enough as to recover and win in the decider with a break of 47.

Higgins struggled but won his place in the Last 16 round
The current number 1, John Higgins was going to take on a future star of snooker, Jack Lisowski in a very thrilling match. Although the boys shared the first two frames, Higgins succeeded in cashing the next two as to go just one step away from victory at 3-1 (breaks of 58 and 50 helped the Scot), but the 19 year-old lad didn’t give up so easily winning his way through and drawing at 3-3. One more decider on yesterday programme! Higgins started his run with a major, major fluke, as he tried to pot a blue into the left middle pocket, but the little ball didn’t cooperate too much, as it refused to go in. Still, because John put too much power in the shot, the ball rebound into the inferior right pocket :-)) That was lucky, lucky, lucky! :-)) At 21-19 in favor of Higgins, little Jack misses a red, that miss cost him the frame and the match for that matter, as Higgins` 59 break closed the deal in his favor. He will now meet the strategist Dave Harold. This will be fun! ;-)

Meanwhile, Eirian Williams was the ref in charge of the match between Mark King and Michael Holt, a match that didn’t last too long, as King hammered Holt 4-1, by hitting in breaks of 40, 68 and 53.

Unfortunately, Michael Holt was eliminated
The second qualifying match of the day (and also the last one) was going to be the battle between Ryan Day and people’s champion Jimmy White, a match that lasted about 52 minutes and it was a perfect whitewash of the White :-( Ryan played the best snooker in his life, I dare in saying, as he hit in breaks of 40, 125, 68 and 102 to crash Jimmy 4-0 and one can’t blame "The Whirlwind" too much as the guy was practically kept in his seat most of the time. However it` true that a couple of poor safety shots brought Day to the table, but Jimmy wasn’t given too much of a chance to recover, so unfortunatelly his run ended here. My sincere congratulations go to Ray, though, as he played wonderfully. It was really nice to see the guy back in business :-)

The last match of the evening was also the longest one as Jamie Cope and Rory McLeod were playing it safe most of the time. Cope opened with a top break of 120, but Rory leveled up in the next frame (frame that lasted more than an hour), from that moment on, the boys sharing frames until they ended up on a decider. Jamie cleared the table by hitting an 85 break and putting and end to our suffering - we wanted to go to sleep! :-))) Kidding!

The tournament continues, as we still have great matches for you, as you ca see below:
1pm (UK time)
Mark Williams v. Marco Fu
Mark Allen v. Rod Lawler

not before 2pm (UK time)
Mark Selby v. Stuart Bingham
Peter Ebdon v. Dominic Dale

7pm (UK time)
Graeme Dott v. Jamie Burnett
Neil Robertson v. Nigel Bond

TV coverage:
13:00 - 13:45 (BBC Wales)
13:45 - 18:00 (British EuroSport)
14:30 - 17:10 (BBC Wales)
19:00 - 20:00 (BBC Wales)
19:00 - 22:00 (British EuroSport)
19:00 - 22:00 (British EuroSport 2)
23:20 -00:05 (BBC Wales)

See yaa tomorrow dears! :-)