Mark Selby came through a hard fought encounter with China’s Xu Si 4-2 to book his place in the second round of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.
Selby remains in the hunt to cash in on the £1 million bonus on offer for any player who wins all four Home Nations events in a single season. The Jester from Leicester won the first tournament of this year’s series at the 19.com English Open.
His victory at the Crawley event saw him earn his first piece of silverware in over a year. Selby capped the week off with a stunning display in the final, missing only seven balls on his way to a crushing 9-1 defeat of David Gilbert.
This afternoon Selby looked to be in danger of a surprise exit when world number 97 Xu spurned a golden opportunity to move 3-1 ahead. He missed a black to the top right corner allowing Selby to draw level at 2-2.
Three-time World Champion Selby ruthlessly punished that error, making breaks of 64 and 73 to emerge a 4-2 victor.
Selby said: “The win in Crawley was really important. Especially for my mindset more than anything else. Even when he had the black to go 3-1 up, I still fancied myself to win the match. I am definitely in a better mindset so I have come here very confident.”
David Lilley secured his first victory as a professional with a shock 4-2 win over Chinese number one Ding Junhui.
Former World Amateur finalist Lilley is making his debut season on the World Snooker Tour after coming through Q School earlier this year. He fired in breaks of 96, 82, 84 and 71 on his way to victory this afternoon.
Stephen Maguire recorded a 4-0 win over Declan Lavery despite currently suffering from a broken ankle.
The Scot picked up the injury while out in China at the recent World Open. He was forced to wear a protective boot for his 4-0 first round loss at the Champion of Champions last week.
Maguire had been given dispensation to play in trainers today due to the injury and produced breaks of 76 and 50 on his way to the whitewash win.
Maguire said: “I tried to play last week with the space boot on. It just wasn’t possible. My wife and family aren’t happy that I am playing without it because I might do further damage to it. The only way I can play is to use these trainers and give myself half a chance.”
Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown delighted the home crowd with a fine 4-2 win over Thai legend James Wattana. While Ken Doherty defeated Michael Georgiou 4-2.
2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy whitewashed Fraser Patrick 4-0 and 30-time ranking event winner John Higgins emerged a 4-2 victor against Chang Bingyu.