Defending champion Judd Trump recorded a comfortable 4-1 win over Robbie Williams on day one of the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.
Trump lifted the title in 2020, with a 4-3 win over Kyren Wilson in the final. By winning the event 12 months ago, he secured last year’s BetVictor European Series bonus, which is awarded to the player who accumulates the most prize money across all of the eligible tournaments.
World number one Trump is in pole position to scoop this year’s bumper £150,000 payout, having already won the BetVictor German Masters. Only BetVictor European Masters winner Mark Selby and BetVictor Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown can catch him in this week’s concluding event.
The Ace in the Pack fired in breaks of 74, 54 and 80 on his way to this evening’s victory. He’ll face either Sunny Akani or Haydon Pinhey in round two.
Trump said: “There have been a wide spread of winners in the series this year. There are three people that can still win it, so I had no choice but to enter.
“I saw that myself and Mark Selby are in the same half of the draw. It puts it in my hands if I can get that far. It would be nice if we could get through and meet each other in the semis.
“You can’t pick what tournaments you are going to win, so you have to be super consistent and keep winning throughout the season. I won the German Masters again this year and it is the biggest prize money of the series. I was decent in the other events and put myself in control. I think Mark will be a little bit disappointed not to be in the driving seat.”
Shaun Murphy secured his place in the second round after battling back to beat Ashley Hugill 4-2.
Triple Crown winner Murphy had trailed world number 117 Hugill 2-0. However, breaks of 56, 60 and 140 helped him to reel off four frames on the bounce and emerge the 4-2 victor.
Chinese teenager Si Jiahui stunned compatriot and Asian number one Ding Junhui 4-2, making contributions of 99, 63 and 58 in an impressive display.
Welshman Jamie Clarke booked his place in round two with a fine 4-1 win over Masters champion Yan Bingtao, while Joe Perry defeated Mark Davis 4-2.