RICKY Walden’s International Championship title defence blew up in smoke after he suffered a first round defeat on the tournament’s opening day.
The world number 11, who a year ago beat Mark Allen to win the £125,000 top prize ranking event, was forced to pack his bags early after losing 6-4 to China’s Tian Pengfei earlier today (Sunday).
The International Championship, now in its fourth year, is the biggest ranking event outside the UK with significant prize money handed out as the rounds progress.
Walden, who reached the final of last week’s first Asian Tour event, came back from 4-1 down to level at 4-4 against the world number 66. But he was unable to turn the match around as Pengfei took the next two frames to seal his place in the second round (Last 64).
The win continues an impressive run of form for Pengfei who reached his first ranking final earlier this month at the season’s third European Tour event in Germany.
The match was one of four first round games to be held over to the venue stage from the International Championship ‘qualifiers’ which were held three weeks ago in Barnsley.
The other held over matches saw wins for Ding Junhui, Stuart Bingham and Liang Wenbo.
China’s number one Ding, a winner of this event two years ago, had to grind out a 6-4 victory over amateur Sam Craigie and Bingham cruised to a comfortable 6-1 win over Steven Hallworth.
Wenbo made six breaks of 50+ in a 6-3 win over Alex Taubman.
The first day’s Last 64 matches saw world number 1 Mark Selby record a 6-3 win over Mike Dunn. The 2014 world champion will next face Anthony McGill who beat Sean O’Sullivan 6-0.
The match will be a repeat of the pair’s 2015 World Championship second round tie which McGill won to end Selby’s hopes of defending the prestigious title.
Elsewhere, Shanghai Masters winner Kyren Wilson came back from 3-2 behind to beat Jamie Cope 6-4 and Barry Hawkins recovered from 3-1 down to beat Chris Wakelin by the same score.
Michael Wild, who memorably beat Judd Trump 6-0 to reach the second round, suffered defeat by the same margin losing to Sanderson Lam.
17-year-old Zhou Yuelong showed more signs of promise after top breaks of 79 and 68 helped him to an impressive 6-2 win over world number 24 Martin Gould.
Earlier this summer Zhou made the headlines for helping China win snooker’s World Cup with team Yan Bingtao.
Breaks of 137 and 80 helped Marco Fu, who reached the final of this tournament in 2013, to a deserved 6-2 win over Matthew Stevens.
Last year’s finalist Allen beat fellow Ulsterman Joe Swail 6-4 with top breaks of 88 and 73.
A deciding frame break of 67 helped Michael White into the last 32 after he thwarted off a fightback from Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng.
Poomjaeng hit back from 4-1 down against the Welshman to lead 5-4 but White responded when it mattered to clinch a thrilling match.
And Six Reds world champion Thepchaiya Un-Nooh also battled out a deciding frame before beating Scotland’s Ross Muir.
The remaining second round games conclude tomorrow (Monday).
Noppon SAENGKHAM 6-5 Lin SHUAI
Daniel WELLS 6-2 Fang XIONGMAN
Ken DOHERTY 6-2 Chen ZIFAN
Wang YUCHEN 6-4 Aditya MEHTA
Second Round Matches (L64)
Mark WILLIAMS 6-3 Ian BURNS
Jimmy ROBERTSON 6-2 Darryl HILL
Ryan DAY 6-3 Mark JOYCE
Graeme DOTT 6-2 Jamie BURNETT
Fergal O’BRIEN 6-3 Tom FORD
Michael HOLT 6-4 Rod LAWLER