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Defending Champion Higgins Storms Through
John Higgins put on a sublime display to ease past Lyu Haotian 5-0 in their heldover first round tie at the Evergrande China Championship in Guangzhou.
The Wizard of Wishaw claimed last year’s title in spectacular fashion. He made three consecutive centuries from 7-7 to defeat Stuart Bingham 10-7 in the final. Higgins got his 2017 China Championship campaign off to an equally impressive start today.
The four-time World Champion looked a class above his 19-year-old opponent, taking just under an hour to complete his quick-fire win. There were breaks of 72, 129, 63, 69 and 62 for Higgins.
World Champion Mark Selby came through his opening tie with wildcard Luo Honghao 5-1.
The world number one was competing in his first ranking match this campaign having missed the start of the season through a toe injury. He closed out the match in style, making a break of 76 to seal victory.
Shaun Murphy came from 4-3 down to edge past an in form Ken Doherty 5-4.
The Magician had led 3-1, but three frames on the bounce from the Irishman turned the match on it’s head. Doherty reached the semi-final stage of the Riga Masters in June and was again on the verge of a great result. 2005 World Champion Murphy had other ideas and he claimed two frames on the bounce to progress.
China’s number one Ding Junhui overcame Niu Zhuang 5-1 in the heldover first round. After losing the first frame, Ding won five in a row making a break of 81 along the way.
Ian Burns produced a shock 5-3 win over English Open Champion Liang Wenbo in their heldover tie.
The Preston based potter looked more at ease than Liang in the latter stages of the match, where play became more fragmented and tight.
Liang took the opening frame on the black, before Burns levelled with a run of 78. Liang then regained the lead thanks to a century 102 break. However, Burns was then ahead for the first time after making a contribution of 73 in frame five.
With Burns leading 4-3, the pair battled out a mammoth 51 minute eigth frame, where Burns eventually came through to seal his 5-3 victory.
“I’ve not won that many games in China and that was my first win on TV,” said Burns. “That last frame got a bit scrappy, but I was always a few points ahead. I was always quite confident, we both missed chances but luckily for me I came out on top.”