Mark Selby will have to summon a huge first round fightback if he is to avoid an early exit at the Betfred World Championship, trailing world number 22 Joe Perry 7-2 after the first session.
Perry, who is making his 15th appearance at the Crucible, looked the more composed of the two this morning. He’s match sharp after coming through qualifying at the English Institute of Sport earlier in the week, beating good friend Mark Davis 10-7 in the final round.
Selby hasn’t lost a first round clash since 2012. However, the 34-year-old defending champion has it all to do when they return this evening at 7pm if he is to wear the Crucible crown for a third consecutive season.
The Gentleman hit the ground running this morning with breaks of 52, 56 and 63 to move 4-0 in front at the mid-session. When they returned it looked as if Selby had stopped the rot, immediately hitting back with consecutive runs of 74 and 92 to pull within two frames at 4-2.
However, Perry snatched back the initiative to end the session to grasp a stranglehold on proceedings. The breaks continued to fly in as he composed runs of 59, 84 and 109 to move three frames from victory.
Crucible debutant Lyu Haotian produced some tremendous snooker to establish a 6-3 advantage against two-time semi-finalist Marco Fu.
The pair have experienced contrasting build ups to snooker’s tournament of tournaments. Lyu, age 20, had to come through three hard fought qualifying matches, including a comeback from 9-5 down to defeat Martin O’Donnell 10-9. Fu is making his return to action after suffering from retinal degeneration, which has kept him off the World Snooker Tour since the Masters in January.
Lyu fired in two century runs of 122 and 127 on his Crucible bow and will require four frames to progress in the second session. However, he will be wary of the never say die instincts of Fu, who overturned a 7-1 deficit to win 10-9 in the first round last year against Luca Brecel. The match will resume tomorrow evening at 7pm.