World Champion Judd Trump produced a strong showing to whitewash Billy Castle 4-0 and reach the last 32 of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.
The Ace in the Pack is still searching for his maiden title in this event, but did reach the final in 2017 when he was runner-up to Stuart Bingham.
If world number one Trump were to be victorious this week he would equal Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui, Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record of five ranking crowns in a single season. Trump’s four wins so far this campaign have come at the International Championship, World Open, Northern Ireland Open and the recent German Masters.
This afternoon Trump fired in breaks of 71, 121 and 67 on his way to a victory which took under an hour. He faces Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo up next.
Trump said: “It was a good performance. I played pretty solidly and I didn’t miss much when I got amongst the balls. I’m very happy with the first three frames and pleased to put the match to bed quite comfortably.
“I felt very comfortable in that game. I made a good break to go 1-0 up and it just settled me down. I was able to dictate what was going on. My safety was very good and I played well enough to put him under pressure.”
Higgins Beats Familiar Foe
John Higgins defeated 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty 4-1 in the pair’s first meeting in five years, as he secured his last 32 spot.
The Wizard of Wishaw defeated Doherty 18-12 to claim his maiden World Championship title back in 1998. The most recent clash between them was at the 2015 German Masters when Higgins prevailed 5-2.
Higgins, a record five-time winner of this event, produced his best snooker at the closing stages this evening. He fired in back-to-back century breaks of 100 and 104 to secure victory.
Rocket Downs The Mariner
Ronnie O’Sullivan came through an intriguing clash with Stuart Carrington 4-2 to progress.
The Rocket looked to be in danger when he trailed 2-1. Carrington spurned a golden opportunity to move one from victory, missing a red with a chance to clear. O’Sullivan pounced with a break of 31 to restore parity.
From there five-time World Champion O’Sullivan grasped control of proceedings. He claimed the fifth frame, before a run of 96 secured his victory. O’Sullivan faces Anthony Hamilton in tomorrow’s last 32.
Mark Selby progressed courtesy of a 4-1 defeat of Chen Zifan, while Neil Robertson notched up the 700th century of his career during a 4-2 win over Mark Joyce.
Stuart Bingham was a 4-1 winner against Chen Feilong and Shaun Murphy required a final frame decider to beat Alfie Burden 4-3.