THE THIRD day of the inaugural Haikou World Open produced more surprises as more top seeds were sent packing.
There were surprise defeats for top 16 ranked Mark Williams, Matthew Stevens, Stephen Maguire and Martin Gould. Their defeats has certainly opened up for the competition for lower ranked players in search for a major title and more ranking points to their name.
World number two Williams suffered a shock 5-1 defeat to Englishman Mark King who built on his wildcard round win against Hossein Vafael in emphatic style.
The Essex star won the close frames and had highest breaks of 94 and 71 to book a last 16 tie with Tom Ford.
German Masters finalist Stephen Maguire was looking good for a last 16 place when he led 3-1 against Robert Milkins but a spirited fightback from the Gloucester potter saw him take the remaining frames to knock the Glaswegian out.
It was not a good day for Welshmen in China with Matthew Stevens following Williams’ exit after losing a thriller 5-4 to qualifier Joe Perry. Perry battled back from 4-3 down to scrap a place in the last 16 where he will play Shaun Murphy.
Another top 16 player who could not advance further in the tournament was Martin Gould who lost to a deciding frame against Jamie Cope. The Stoke-on-Trent star came back from 4-2 down to grind out a win and will play last season’s World Championship winner John Higgins in the next round.
World number one Mark Selby had a scare when he trailed 3-2 to wildcard entrant Lu Ning. But the Leicester ace showed his star quality winning the next three frames to close out the match.
Mark Allen had no such concerns beating qualifier Jimmy Robertson 5-1 to set up an exciting last 16 encounter against Judd Trump – a rematch of this season’s UK Championship final.
And Masters winner Neil Robertson gained revenge over Scot Stephen Hendry with a 5-3 win. Hendry knocked Robertson out of the Welsh Open earlier this month in a surprise win but the Australian had the better of his opponent today.
However the result could have easily gone the other way as Hendry lost two very close frames on the final black which at the end was to prove costly for the seven-times world champion.
After being 4-1 down Hendry launched a comeback winning the next two frames but Robertson held his nerve in the ninth frame to reach the last 16 and will play Stephen Lee.