Higgins suffered an early exit at the Six Red event in Thailand last week but looked back in the groove today
John Higgins made a strong start to the Bank of Communications OTO Shanghai Masters on Monday with a 5-1 win over China’s Liang Wenbo.
Higgins is bidding to win the first two ranking tournaments of the season, with the Australian Goldfields Open crown already under his belt, and booked a last 16 place as he knocked in breaks of 65 and 56 en route to a comfortable victory. Liang reached the final of last week’s SangSom Six Red World Championship in Thailand but looked jaded as he struggled to continue his momentum.
“I was very lucky today,” admitted four-time World Champion Higgins. “There were lots of bits of luck that I got and Liang didn’t.”
Gould enjoyed a dominant display against Hawkins
Martin Gould, who was runner-up to Higgins in Australia, scored an impressive 5-1 win over Riga Open champion Barry Hawkins. Londoner Gould opened with a break of 109 and looked in control throughout.
“I started off well, and thankfully got over the line in the end,” said Gould. “Barry didn’t play anywhere near the way he can. He didn’t seem his usual self and missed balls you would never expect him to miss. That made my job easier.”
Chinese wild card Fang Xiongman was produced the shock of the opening day as he beat Jamie Jones 5-1 with a top break of 115.
In an emotional press conference, Fang said: “I first picked up a cue when I was 17 and I wasn’t that good at 18 or 19. People would say that Ding Junhui was winning ranking events by that age, and it really hurt when they said that. I tended to doubt myself even on very simple shots and there was a voice saying ‘you can’t do it.’ I was close to collapse.
“I quit snooker once, for about two months. But I found there’s nothing I can do other than snooker. I really felt my love for snooker, still in my blood. I moved somewhere unfamiliar and continued with practice.
“In tournaments I certainly try my hardest because it’s about time I produced my best. I’m pretty confident now and I think if I play well I’ll win. There is still so much about the technical and mental sides of the game to learn. Hopefully I can be more consistent and take more chances as they come.”
Ryan Day saw off Graeme Dott 5-3, closing with a break of 68. “It was a bit of a struggle before the interval as the conditions here are different to what we had in Thailand last week, but I played better after that,” said Day, who was runner-up at the inaugural Shanghai Masters in 2007. “I always enjoy coming here and I’ve got a few days to practise now before my next match.”
In the wild card round, Alan McManus knocked in breaks of 100 and 122 in a 5-2 win over Yao Pengcheng while Robert Milkins top scored with 93 in a 5-0 defeat of Cehn Zifan.
Mike Dunn made a 120 in a 5-0 victory over Niu Zhuang while Peter Ebdon beat Yuan Sijun 5-2 with a top break of 85.