THE OPENING day of the 2012 Haikou World Open saw some surprises as Sam Baird and Nigel Bond crashed out of the competition in the wildcard stage.
Despite both players qualifying for the event at the start of the year, Baird and Bond now have to leave China without reaching the last 32 stage after losing out to homegrown players in the controversial wildcard stage.
The Wildcard round is currently a major talking point with many in the game believing it is not fair for those who have negotiated qualifiers and flown to the other side of the globe, to then have to face local players before resuming their rightful place in the draw.
But on the other hand, the Wildcard match can be regarded as useful practice in the arena ahead of a match against a top-seeded player.
Baird lost out 5-3 to 30-year-old Jin Long and Bond lost in a deciding frame to Lu Ning. Jin will play Welsh Open winner Ding Junhui tomorrow while Lu Ning’s win has set up a mouth-watering tie with current world number one Mark Selby.
Fellow professional snooker player Alan McManus felt for Baird and wrote on Twitter earlier today: “I can’t help feel sorry for Sam Baird. I’ve never liked to see a player lose to a guy not even in the tournament.”
Elsewhere Tom Ford survived a huge scare to beat 14-year-old Lu Haotian 5-4 after coming back from 3-0 down. Ford was scheduled to meet Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last 32 but his withdrawal from the competition means the Leicester man has made the last 16 stage.
Michael Holt also battled his way to beat Zhu Yinghui by the same nail-biting scoreline and hit three century breaks in the process.
Joe Perry eased through in his game against Ruozi Maimatti winning 5-0 while Jimmy Robertson and Mark King reached the last 32 stage with victories over Zhou Yuelong and Hossein Vafaei Ayori respectively.
Robert Milkins came through his match Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon to set up a last 32 tie with Stephen Maguire.