John Higgins and Judd Trump both Survive in English Open
John Higgins and Judd Trump both narrowly avoided shock defeats on day one of the Dafabet English Open in Barnsley, scoring 4-3 wins to reach the last 64.
Trump came into the event in form having won the recent European Masters and is aiming to win back-to-back ranking titles for the first time in his career.
But he fell behind against world number 63 Robbie Williams, who took the opening frame on the black. Trump came alive in the second, compiling a run of 114. He then took to the front with a sublime break of 143 to lead 2-1. Williams restored parity with a contribution of 95 then won frame five to lead 3-2.
World number four Trump led 70-32 in frame six when he was trapped in a snooker on the last red, but he escaped and later potted the red to make it 3-3. And the Bristol cueman enjoyed runs of 43 and 44 as he dominated the decider.
After the match Trump admitted that recent laser eye surgery was crucial to maintain his standard. “You need to try and find any percentage of improvement you can in snooker,” he said. “For me to take my game to the next level that is what I had to do.
“I played well in last year’s English Open and fell a little bit short against Liang Wenbo in the final. To win two tournaments in a row would show that I have improved and that the consistency is there, so that is my next step.”
Higgins also trailed his opponent, Elliot Slessor, 3-2 but won frame six with a run of 75 then took a scrappy decider 72-11.
“Elliot has improved a lot, he has been up to practise with me in Glasgow,” said world number three Higgins. “I haven’t prepared well for this tournament, I only practised for half an hour last week. We have a lot of events coming up over the next few weeks so I was spending time with my family. Then I drove down yesterday but had trouble on the motorway and it took me eight and a half hours to get here.”
Higgins could afford to laugh afterwards about an incident in the fourth frame when a wasp appeared on the baize. “I guess they are dying off now so they are trying to sting everyone,” said the Scot. “I’m glad it was Elliot at the table because I’m frightened of wasps.”
World number 16 Anthony McGill also enjoyed a 4-3 success, beating Michael Holt. The Scot is enjoying a purple patch of form , having reached a final and three quarter-finals so far this season.
Holt was 3-2 down when he cleared the colours to force a decider. Both players had opportunities to win the last frame but it was McGill who took it 57-21, Holt conceding when he missed a tough pot on the pink with one red left.
“I was so nervous from the first to the last shot. I don’t know why, but it was affecting my performance,” said two-time ranking event winner McGill. “I couldn’t see either of us winning the decider in one visit, so I thought I was going to get a couple of chances. It was basically on a toss of a coin.”
Defending champion Liang Wenbo eased to a 4-1 win over Duane Jones and fired breaks of 81, 107, 73 and 105.
Stuart Bingham saw off Lee Walker 4-0 but was disappointed to miss out on the chance of a 147, which carries a £40,000 bonus this week. Bingham potted 14 reds with blacks in the opening frame before breaking down on 112, and 13 reds with blacks in the last frame before running out of position and missing on 104.
Mark Allen took just 56 minutes to beat Jimmy White 4-0 with top runs of 73, 72 and 80. Kyren Wilson made a 94 in the decider to beat Rod Lawler 4-3.
Jack Lisowski compiled breaks of 144 and 130 in a 4-0 win over Rory McLeod. Barry Hawkins top scored with 55 in a 4-2 win over Peter Lines.
Shaun Murphy top scored with 82 in a 4-1 win over Soheil Vahedi while Ali Carter beat Oliver Lines 4-1 with a top run of 67.