THE SHOCK nature of this year’s World Championship continued into day five after both the world’s number one Mark Selby and Ding Junhui faced early exits.
An off-par Selby, who appeared to be still suffering from a neck injury, failed to win a single frame in tonight’s session in his encounter as Barry Hawkins cruised to a comfortable 10-3 victory.
Selby clearly was not himself during the match and will be gutted to have ended the season on a sour note after having such a solid campaign which has seen move to the top of the world rankings. But credit has to go for Hawkins who took his chances when they came and looked in good form. His reward is a second round clash with Welshman Matthew Stevens.
Unlike Selby, Ding Junhui looked destined for victory in his first round match against Ryan Day. The Chinese star, considered one of the favourites for the title, looked set for a second round meeting with fellow countryman Cao Yupeng when he took a 9-6 lead.
But to Ding’s amazement and the crowd watching, Day had other ideas and produced a remarkable comeback to level at 9-9 and force the match into a decider. When Day missed a long red in the 19th frame and opened up a clutter of reds it seemed as if it would be game over for the Welshman.
But the crowd were left stunned when Ding missed a straight-forward red with the rest to hand Day a golden opportunity. The world number 35 kept his composure and cleared up the table to clinch a memorable 10-9 victory.
Another seed losing out today was Graeme Dott who described his performance as ‘terrible’ after suffering a heavy 10-1 defeat to Joe Perry.
Leading 8-1 overnight, Perry wasted little time this morning to finish the match off and book a second round clash with Scotland’s Stephen Maguire.
Selby, Ding and Dott join the five other seeds whom have crashed out in the first round including Stephen Lee, Martin Gould, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham.
Not since 1992 has eight seeds been knocked out in the first round of the World Championships and this year the competition is as open as ever before in modern times.
The fact the qualifiers took place before the World Championship may be the reason why so many qualifiers have gone through. But it does show the quality of the snooker circuit and that the sport is in era where there are no dominant players – anyone can beat anyone on their day.
Despite being ill, Judd Trump managed to avoid an opening round upset beating Dominic Dale 10-7 this afternoon. The Bristol potter came back from 7-6 down to battle his way to a scrappy win and will meet either Ali Carter or Mark Davis in the next round.
Two-times winner Mark Williams survived a nervy start to lead China’s Liu Chuang 6-3 going into their final session tomorrow.
Ali Carter played some of his best snooker of what has been a disappointing season for The Captain in his match against qualifier Mark Davis. An off colour Davis was not on his best form and Carter took full advantage to take a massive 8-1 lead.