THE OPENING day of the 2013/14 snooker season saw a huge surprise as world number one Mark Selby crashed out of the Wuxi Classic in the first round to Andrew Pagett.
Today was a historic day for the sport with the start of the new flat structure era which sees the world’s best players have to qualify for major events instead of being secured a place in the last 32 stage.
And Selby, who had a disappointing World Championship, was the first victim of the new flat format as he suffered a surprising 5-3 loss which meant he will not appear in the final stages of the Wuxi Classic – the first major event of the campaign held in China.
World championship runner-up Barry Hawkins opened up the new season with a 5-1 win over Simon Bedford and Mark Williams eased through
Things were not so easy for defending champion Ricky Walden who was forced to fight hard in the beginning of his title defence with a close 5-4 win against Pankaj Advani.
Michael White, fresh from his run to the quarter-finals of the World Championship, started the new season with a 5-1 win over Sam Baird and six times world champion Steve Davis booked his place in China with a 5-2 win over James Cahill.
And the Whirlwind Jimmy White made it through with a 5-3 victory over Lee Page.
More qualifying matches take place tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday.
** WORLD champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has pulled out of this season’s Wuxi Classic. Today’s announcement means his initial opponent Michael Wasley receives a bye into the final stages.
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