Chinese legend Ding Junhui defeated 21-year-old compatriot Si Jiahui 6-2 to make the last 16 of the Shanghai Masters.
The pair headlined day one in Shanghai, which was hosting professional snooker’s return to mainland China for the first time since 2019. Today’s action saw the first round of this prestigious 24-player invitational event get underway.
Ding is a two-time winner of the Shanghai Masters, but hasn’t won a professional title since the 2019 UK Championship. Si is in the early stages of his professional journey, but showcased his considerable talent with a run to the semi-finals of last season’s World Championship.
After taking the opener, a break of 70 helped Ding to move 2-0 ahead this evening. Si then looked to be in control of the third, crafting a break of 60, but Ding made 51 to come from behind and steal on the black. A contribution of 71 then saw Si get his first frame on the board and head in for the mid-session just two behind at 3-1.
When play resumed the pair exchanged frames, before Ding burst clear for the finish. The 36-year old took two in a row, including a 29-minute eighth, to emerge with a 6-2 win.
Next up, 14-time ranking event winner Ding faces a mouth watering meeting with Australia’s 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson in the last 16.
John Higgins achieved a landmark moment in his 6-0 whitewash defeat of Chinese wildcard Deng Haohui.
Scotland’s four-time Crucible king Higgins crafted the 950th century of his career with a run of 141 in the fourth frame. He is the only player other than Ronnie O’Sullivan to have reached that particular figure.
Higgins looked to be in fine touch and also crafted runs of 64, 102, 91 and 59 on his way to victory. The 48-year-old will now face 2015 Shanghai Masters winner Kyren Wilson in the last 16. Afterwards the Glaswegian discussed how happy he was to be back competing in China.
“It is a great arena to play in. It is brilliant and one of the nicest cities in the world, one of the nicest I’ve ever travelled to. It is obviously great to be back,” said 31-time ranking event winner Higgins. ” All the players have enjoyed it. There is everything, sightseeing and the older part of the city. There is lots of great shopping to do. It is brilliant to be back.
“I think I’m playing pretty decent stuff. That obviously helps to be a little bit more motivated. I’ve said in a few interviews that I am trying to preserve my place in the top 16 to be in these tournaments. You don’t want to miss out. I’ve got my work cut out for the whole year to make sure I am still in the top 16.”
Hossein Vafaei eased to a 6-1 win against wildcard Gong Chen. Vafaei made century breaks of 120, 117 and 108 during the win and now plays four-time World Champion Mark Selby. The Iranian will fancy his chances, having won his last three meetings with Selby.
Former Shanghai Masters winner Ali Carter defeated Dong Zi Hao by a 6-2 scoreline, while China’s Fan Zhengyi scored a 6-2 win over Scottish Open champion Gary Wilson.
Jack Lisowski made a fine contribution of 84 in the deciding frame to edge out Zhou Yuelong 6-5. He now faces an intriguing last 16 showdown with close friend Judd Trump.