John Higgins defeated Jamie O’Neill 4-1 to progress to the second round of his home event, the 19.com Scottish Open in Glasgow.
Scotland’s four-time World Champion has enjoyed plenty of success in this tournament since its inception in 2016, but is yet to lift the Stephen Hendry Trophy.
Higgins reached the inaugural Scottish Open final, but was defeated by Marco Fu 9-4. In 2017 he bowed out at the semi-final stage against Neil Robertson and last year he fired in the ninth maximum 147 break of his career in a 4-0 win over Gerard Greene.
The Wizard of Wishaw wasn’t at his best this afternoon, failing to register a break over 50. However, he dug deep and still managed to comfortably see off the less experienced world number 110 O’Neill.
From 2-1 up Higgins claimed a scrappy fourth frame, before stealing the fifth on the final black to emerge a 4-1 victor. Next up he will face Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher, who whitewashed Michael Holt 4-0.
Higgins said: “He let me off the hook a few times there. I didn’t play great myself, but a win is a win and I am happy to get through.
“My son was here, with my mum, a couple of mates and my father in law. That is the good thing about being here. You get a few friends and family and they can shout you along.
“I’ve done alright here in the past. Obviously I would love to put my name on that trophy, but it is pretty difficult nowadays.”
Defending champion Mark Allen recovered from 2-0 down to defeat Andy Hicks 4-2 in their opening round encounter.
The Pistol claimed the title here last year after a thrilling 9-7 win over close friend Shaun Murphy in the final. However, despite appearing in five ranking event semi-finals since then, he hasn’t registered any further silverware.
Former Masters winner Allen turned today’s match on its head with breaks of 88, 55 and 64 on his way to four frames on the bounce to secure victory. Next up Allen faces Louis Heathcote.
Graeme Dott produced a blistering display to whitewash Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo 4-0.
Scotland’s 2006 World Champion averaged just under 20 seconds a shot, while compiling breaks of 69, 125, 71 and 137 to wrap up an impressive win in which he prevented his opponent from scoring a single point.
Dott will now face either Ben Woollaston or Chen Zifan in the second round.
Dott said: “My brother Billy was here and I don’t think he has actually ever seen me play live before. He will probably think the game is unbelievably easy and that I play as well as that all of the time. However, it isn’t normally that straightforward.”
World number 78 John Astley emerged with a shock 4-0 win over three-time ranking event winner Barry Hawkins.
Mark Selby booked his place in the second round courtesy of a hard fought 4-2 defeat of Mark Joyce, while Neil Robertson beat Ken Doherty 4-1 to secure his place in round two.