John Higgins survived a tough battle against Anthony McGill to win 5-3 and reach the last 32 of the Wuxi Classic in China.
Four-time World Champion Higgins was the victim of a surprise 4-3 defeat against Chinese amateur Chen Feilong at last week’s Yixing Open, but he returned to winning ways in the first full ranking event of the season.
Higgins, runner-up to Neil Robertson in Wuxi last year, won the second frame against fellow Scot McGill with a break of 85 for 1-1. McGill regained the lead with a 75 clearance before Higgins won the next two with runs of 122 and 94. Frame six went to McGill thanks to a break of 70 to leave the score at 3-3, but it was Higgins who got the better of two scrappy frames to earn a meeting with another friend and practice partner: Alan McManus.
Marco Fu top scored with 111 in a 5-2 defeat of Craig Steadman. “I played pretty well, especially in the break-building department,” said Hong Kong’s Fu, who received plenty of support from local fans. “I could have played better safety – I lost two frames on the final black. Generally I’m happy with the result.
“It was a great atmosphere for the first day of the tournament, it was very enjoyable today. I made a nice century break which I didn’t see coming because it was a difficult situation to clear up. I wanted to be relaxed and also entertain the crowd. I didn’t play well in Yixing so I hope to do better in this major tournament. Hopefully I can go on to perform well in upcoming matches.”
Judd Trump beat David Grace 5-1 despite a top break of just 46 while Stuart Bingham top scored with 84 in a 5-2 defeat of Tony Drago.
Robin Hull, who enjoyed a renaissance at the end of last season by qualifying for the Crucible for the first time in 12 years, came from 3-1 down to beat Shanghai Masters finalist Xiao Guodong 5-3. Finland’s Hull made a break of 101 in the second frame and later won the last four with top runs of 59 and 69.
“There were a lot of mistakes from both of us,” admitted Hull. “In the end I just made a few less mistakes. It can be very tense when you’re not getting over the line in one visit. Hopefully I will improve in the next game. It was nice to get through to the Crucible, it gave my confidence a boost.
“In the future I hope there will be more players from Finland on the tour. There are a few youngsters coming through. It will be nice to have them though I’ll probably be off the tour by then.”
Michael Georgiou is on the pro tour for the first time since 2009 having come through Q School and he scored an impressive 5-1 win over Marcus Campbell, highlighted by breaks of 61 and 76. Yixing Open runner-up Michael Holt came from 4-2 down to beat Rory McLeod 5-4.
Three professionals fell victim to Chinese wild cards as Yan Bingtao edged out Yu Delu 5-4, Zhao Xintong beat Andrew Norman 5-3 and Chen Zifan beat Scott Donaldson 5-3.
Yan Bingtao, a 14-year-old from Zibo in the Shandong Province, said: “I have played Yu Delu before so I know his game. I had to play my aggressive game. It’s my first win as a wild card player. I checked the draw before the tournament and I knew I would have chances to go further. I’m getting more used to the professional tables now. The experience of playing at the Yixing Open helped a lot.”
Zhao Xintong, whose top break was 99, said: “I didn’t perform in the first part of the match as I was nervous and I wasn’t used to the conditions. But then I was able to raise my game. I felt like potting anything – I found my rhythm and confidence.”