NEIL Robertson’s hopes of winning the only major ranking tournament in his native Australia were blown to shreds after he crashed to a surprising first round defeat to Matthew Selt.
Robertson, who is yet to win the Australian Open since the event launched four years ago, will have to wait at least another year to get his hands on the title after suffering a 5-4 defeat in the late hours of today (Australian time).
The 2010 world champion, who has been the runner-up of this event on two occasions, was out of sorts throughout and had trailed 4-0 at one stage before mounting a brilliant comeback to force a final frame decider.
But Selt, ranked 30 in the world, managed to grind out a victory potting an all important final blue to clinch the vital ninth frame and dent Robertson’s hopes of winning the title for another year.
Robertson’s loss saw him join Stuart Bingham who also suffered an early exit in the season’s first major ranking event of the 2015/16 campaign.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN WINNERS
2011 – Stuart Bingham, 2012 – Barry Hawkins, 2013 – Marco Fu, 2014 – Judd Trump
*Neil Robertson a beaten finalist in both 2013 and 2014
Elsewhere world number one Mark Selby had no such difficulty as he cruised to a 5-1 victory over Mark King in his first ranking match since losing the defence of the World Championship title when he lost to Anthony McGill in April.
During the match Selby recorded the tournament’s highest break so far with a run of 141.
WATCH – Mark Selby beats Mark King 5-1 in Australian Open 2015
There was another surprise earlier in the day when Walsall potter Mark Joyce pulled off an impressive 5-2 win over world number 12 Mark Allen.
Joyce, who is ranked 35 places lower than Allen, secured a place in the second round with breaks of 85 and 73 to get over the winning line.
Michael Holt completed a 5-0 win over Gerard Greene while Joe Perry beat Jamie Burnett 5-3. Robert Milkins also progressed to the last 16 after beating Australian wild card winner Adrian Ridley 5-1.
Wednesday sees the conclusion of the first round with Shaun Murphy, runner-up of the World Championship, taking on Ali Carter while two second round matches take place with defending champion Judd Trump meeting Ian Burns and Stephen Maguire up against Ricky Walden.