WORLD champion Mark Selby suffered an early exit in the Wuxi Classic after he fell to a second round defeat against Liang Wenbo.
The Jester from Leicester lost his first match since winning snooker’s biggest prize at the start of May as breaks of 71, 100 and 50 kept up the Wenbo’s chances of winning his first major title on home soil.
With China’s number one star Ding Junhui failing to qualify for the event, the Chinese public will be turning to their next big star and the world number 26 to see if one f their own can lift the title.
Deep in touble at 4-2 down, Selby pegged a frame back but a determined Wenbo held his nerve to clinch the big win and a last 16 meeting with Joe Perry who earlier in the day beat Robert Milkins 5-0.
Selby’s defeat was one of several results which significantly opened up the bottom half of the draw with both Graeme Dott and Ricky Walden crashing out in the last 32 stage.
Former world champion Dott suffered a 5-3 defeat to Robin Hull who made a stunning start to the contest making the tournament’s highest break so far of 139 and then followed up with a 134.
Dott recovered well as a top break of 94 saw him level the match up at 3-3 but Hull continued his fine form, which follows a great run to the Crucible at the back end of last season, by taking the final two frames.
And Ricky Walden, who won this event two years ago, suffered a 5-3 defeat to China’s Cao Yupeng ending the world number ten’s hopes of repeating his 2012 success.
Elsewhere, defending champion Neil Robertson recovered from a shaky start to beat Michael Georgiou 5-3.
The Australian, who received a bye into the last 32 stage, recovered from 2-0 down against the Q School graduate to progress through.
Last year’s World Championship finalist Barry Hawkins looked like he would be the biggest scalp of teenager Yan Bingtao’s impressive run when the 14-year-old held a 3-1 lead at one point.
But Hawkins fought back winning the next three frames before Bingtao, who had beaten Yu Delu and Barry Pinches to reach the second round, forced him into a decider. But Hawkins scraped through thanks to a match-winning break of 53.
John Higgins once again suffered that sinking feeling after falling to defeat to Alan McManus for the second major competition on the bounce. Higgins, who lost to the fellow Scotsman in the opening round of the world Championship, let a 3-1 lead slip as McManus thought back to win a deciding frame.
Like Higgins, Anthony Hamilton threw away a strong advantage in his second round match against Stuart Bingham. Hamilton led 4-2 before the world number 12 took the final three frames to battle his way to the last 16.
Judd Trump set up an exciting last 16 tie against Stephen Maguire after beating Ben Woollaston 5-3. Maguire defeated Welshman Michael White by the same scoreline.
Ryan Day came out on top in his all-Welsh battle with Mark Williams as a top break of 85 helped him to a 5-2 win.
The last 16 is also made of Shaun Murphy, Michael Holt, Marco Fu, Zhao Xintong and Martin Gould who ended amateur Oliver Brown’s fine run with a 5-1 victory.
Wuxi Classic 2014 – Last 16 Draw
Neil ROBERTSON vs Michael HOLT
Zhao XINTONG vs Shaun MURPHY
Marco FU vs Stuart BINGHAM
Alan McMANUS vs Barry HAWKINS
Martin GOULD vs Ryan DAY
Stephen MAGUIRE vs Judd TRUMP
Cao YUPENG vs Robin HULL
Joe PERRY vs Liang WENBO