Cahill is ranked 118th in the world but has developed a reputation for beating big names, including both Ding Junhui and Mark Selby at this tournament as well as Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Championship earlier this year. And the 23-year-old from Blackpool knocked out another top 16 star as he got the better of 11th seed Gilbert to book a last 64 meeting with Anthony Hamilton or Sam Baird.
Breaks of 81 and 130 gave Cahill the first two frames, before Gilbert fought back to 4-4 with a top run of 105. But three-time ranking event finalist Gilbert missed crucial chances in the last two frames and his opponent took advantage.
A furious Gilbert said: “I’ve got no bottle so that’s why I haven’t won anything. I should have won today. I want to smash my cue up. I love this tournament but I can’t win a match in it.
“Every other top 16 player has been given a virtual walkover in the first round while I’ve been unlucky to draw someone who fancies winning. But he played well so fair play to him.”
Cahill said: “I’m happy with the way I dealt with the situation. I’ve had a bad season so far but I played good stuff today. I love playing out there against the best players, the table is so nice and responsive which suits my game.
“My aim is to be in the top 16, I’m not playing to be ranked 40 or 50. I have shown I can beat the top players.”
Wizard Ends 25 Years Of Hurt
John Higgins beat Peter Lines for the first time since 1994 and did it in style, winning 6-0 with top breaks of 78, 55, 52 and 54.
“I was very lucky, I had every piece of running going,” admitted three-time UK Champion Higgins. “Maybe that was the only way I could beat him. It was a tough draw and I’m delighted to get through. I haven’t had many good results at this venue so let’s see what happens.”
Ali Carter boosted his hopes of a place at the Dafabet Masters by thrashing Brandon Sargeant 6-0. Carter moves ahead of Ding Junhui, and level with Joe Perry in 14th place in the Race to the Masters. That race looks set to go to the wire in the coming days with at least four players in the mix for the last three spots at Alexandra Palace in January.
The Captain out-ranked Sargeant today
And Carter, who missed out on the Masters last season, improved his chances by white-washing Sargeant, firing breaks of 53, 100 and 71.
“I was really pleased with my performance,” said four-time ranking event winner Carter, who now meets Robert Milkins or Harvey Chandler in the last 64. “I’ve moved into a snooker room at home and it really helps. I can put a few hours worth of practice in, take a break and then do another few hours. It helps with the family life and being at home more.”
Robertson Hits Borg For Six
Neil Robertson was another 6-0 winner as he beat Malta’s Alex Borg with top runs of 81, 81, 107 and 51.
Australia’s Robertson won the recent Champion of Champions but has lacked consistency in ranking events so far this season and lies 36th on the one-year list.
“I’m really pleased to get through comfortably,” he said. “The table was really reactive. I should have had four centuries. I’m happy I played on the first day because I can head home and come back up at the weekend.
“There’s nothing worse than getting knocked out before the BBC coverage starts on Saturday. That happened to me when I was defending champion in 2016 and it was the worst feeling.”
China’s Zhao Xintong edged out Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher 6-5 in an exciting tussle. Ursenbacher made a 136 in the penultimate frame to make it 5-5 and had first chance in the decider but only made 37 and Zhao made a match-winning 92 clearance.
Stuart Bingham came through a tough match against 16-year-old Lei Peifan 6-4. The turning point came at 4-4 when Bingham came from 61-0 down to make a 62 clearance. He added the next frame to book his second round place. Michael Holt compiled runs of 101 and 111 in a 6-1 defeat of Adam Stefanow.
Noppon Saengkham beat Jackson Page 6-5 despite trailing 68-0 in the deciding frame. Saengkham made a break of 41, got the snooker he needed on the green, then cleared for victory.