DAY TWO of the Welsh Open saw several surprises as two contenders saw their title hopes crash down to earth.
World number four Shaun Murphy suffered a first round exit after losing to India’s rising snooker star Pankaj Advani.
It was a very special night for Advani who delivered his biggest win of his career in his first ever match at a ranking venue – the sign of a player who could go on to to have a bright future in the game.
After the first two frames were shared, Advani moved into a surprise 3-1 lead with some easy on the eye snooker and breaks of 121 and 51. But Murphy showed his class fighting back with a break of 89 before levelling the contest to keep his hopes of victory alive.
But the Indian talent managed to hold his nerve at the crucial time winning the final frame to clinch a last 16 spot.
And earlier in the day three times Welsh open winner John Higgins crashed out of the tournament after a shock first round defeat to Ken Doherty.
Higgins, who has won this event in two out of the past three years, struggled throughout during a 4-1 defeat to the 1997 world champion.
This latest defeat piled more misery for the four times world champion who only a fortnight ago crashed out of the German Masters in the last 64 stage after a shock loss to Peter Lines.
In a close contest, Doherty scrapped his way to a 2-0 lead winning the first two frames with not much separating the pair.
A missed final green in the third frame from Doherty handed Higgins a way back into the match but the Irishman got to within a single frame of victory when he won the fourth frame.
And a break of 46 helped seal the match for Doherty who will next play Ricky Walden or Tom Ford for a place in the quarter-finals.
Another surprising result saw this season’s Australian Open winner Barry Hawkins suffer a 4-2 defeat against Alan McManus. The victory securing the Scot’s first last 16 run at a major ranking event since 2010.
Day 2 also proved one to remember for Sam Baird who reached the last 16 of a major ranking event for the first time after a convincing 4-0 win over Gerard Greene.
Breaks of 76 and 73 were the highlights for the Devon star who will play either Robert Milkins or Mark Williams in the next round. It was a disappointing day for Greene who failed to capture the form which saw him beat Ali Carter in the qualifying stages last weekend.
There was more joy for the Welsh crowd this afternoon when home-grown star Matthew Stevens booked his place in the second round after a 4-2 win over Liang Wenbo.
Marco Fu, who reached the German Masters final earlier this month, was unable to go on a similar run in Newport this week after he suffered a 4-2 defeat against Northern Ireland star Mark Allen.
The second day’s play also saw former Welsh Open champion Neil Robertson stroll to a 4-1 against Ian Burns and Stephen Maguire advanced after beating Nottingham’s Anthony Hamilton 4-2.