Mark Selby, playing his first televised match since becoming World Champion, cruised to a 5-1 win over Robbie Williams to reach the last 32 of the Wuxi Classic in China.
It’s seven weeks since Selby beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Crucible final to win his first world title, and the Leicester cueman made a successful return to the limelight with a fine performance against Williams. Breaks of 64 and 123 helped put him 3-0 up and, after his opponent had pulled one back, Selby added runs of 60 and 54 to win the last two frames.
“The first frame could have gone either way, Robbie had a few chances,” said world number one Selby. “Then I played quite well to go 3-0 in front. No one’s going to pot every single ball so you’re going to miss balls that you should pot.
“I know I can go into every tournament now and enjoy it. I’ve always wanted to be World Champion and world number one. I’ve managed to win the UK Championship and the Masters as well which is great – every tournament I win is a bonus. I’m just trying to win more and more.”
Shaun Murphy, the Haikou World Open champion, knocked in runs of 76, 80, 57 and 52 in a 5-1 win over Rod Lawler.
“In parts I played well, I was pleased with how I hit the ball,” said Murphy. “Rod’s a very tough player so I’m pleased to get through. I’ve always enjoyed coming to China, and now that I’ve won a tournament here, I can come with happy memories and confidence.”
Former World Champion Graeme Dott overcame the challenge of Chinese prodigy Zhou Yuelong, who is playing on the pro tour for the first time this season. Zhou came from 3-0 down to 3-3, only for Dott to take the last two frames for a 5-3 success.
“I started well, then my concentration was bad from 3-0 up,” said Dott, who potted a long pink and a black with the rest to secure victory in frame eight. “Zhou was the stronger player towards the end and if it had gone 4-4 he would have been favourite.
“I’ve played Zhou three times and I think he will be the next big player from China. In my view he’s the one to watch.
“Not being in the World Championship this year was devastating – to sit and watch it on TV. But it made me feel more determined not to do that again.”
Another up-and-coming Chinese potter, 14-year-old Yan Bingtao, beat experienced Barry Pinches 5-1 with a top break of 54.
Stephen Maguire came from 3-1 down to beat David Gilbert 5-3, winning the last four frames with breaks of 48, 118, 62 and 54.
Amateur Oliver Brown, who scored a shock 5-0 win over Ding Junhui in the qualifying round last month, kept his run going with a 5-1 defeat of Oliver Lines, highlighted by breaks of 69 and 81.
China’s Liang Wenbo played superbly in a 5-1 win over Jamie Burnett, compiling breaks of 128, 105 and 101, while Barry Hawkins top scored with 80 in a 5-0 whitewash of Lee Page.
Mark Williams saw off Mark Joyce 5-1 with a top run of 70 while Joe Perry beat Chen Zifan 5-0 with a high break of 84. Ken Doherty made a 135 in going 2-1 up on Jamie Jones, but Jones took the last four frames to win 5-2.