Ryan Day’s first ever match at Alexandra Palace finished in jubilation as he came from 3-0 down to beat Ding Junhui 6-4 in the first round of the Dafabet Masters.
Day had not previously played in snooker’s biggest invitation event since 2010, two years before it moved to its current venue. He has climbed back into the top 16 this season, winning his first ranking title at the Riga Masters and reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship.
And after a slow start the Welshman showed fine form today as he knocked out fourth seed Ding, who won this title in 2011. Day goes through to a quarter-final clash with John Higgins or Anthony McGill on Friday evening.
China’s Ding dominated the early stages and made breaks of 111 and 58 in taking the first three frames. Back came Day with 79, 125 and 105 as he recovered to 3-3. Frame seven came down to a safety battle on the last red, and Ding failed to escape from a snooker, which allowed his opponent to clear and take the lead.
In the eighth, Ding was on a break of 62 when he accidentally touched the blue when using the rest, trying to pot the third-last red. Day took advantage with a 41 clearance to lead 5-3. Ding pulled one back with a run of 100 but Day responded in kind with a 115, the fifth century of the match, to seal victory.
“At 3-0 I didn’t feel as though I had done a great deal wrong,” said 15th seed Day. “I needed to keep calm and be patient. To win the fourth frame in one visit and to get to the interval on a high was key.
“As long as you stay calm and don’t lose your focus then the match can turn quite quickly. It was a great atmosphere, it was a full house. It’s a great place to play snooker.
“It’s going be a tough game in the quarter-finals but I’m looking forward to it. You just play the table in front of you and hope that your form comes out. To play in a great arena like this with one table is what we practise for.”
Ding said: “Ryan played great, I missed a couple of pots and he came back like Superman. I got a few chances at 3-3 and 4-3 but little bits of luck went against me.”