Welsh potters get campaigns under way at Newport Centre
SIX Welsh players are in action tomorrow as the BetVictor Welsh Open snooker tournament gets under way at the Newport Centre.
Ryan Day is the first home favourite to take to the table as he faces Liang Wenbo at 10.30am.
Cwm’s Mark Williams takes on Liu Chuang at 1.30pm and at the same time Welsh amateur Gareth Allen will enjoy a dream debut at a ranking event against four-time world champion John Higgins.
The 24-year-old from Ewloe in Flintshire beat Rory McLeod 4-2 in the weekend qualifiers. At 2pm Carmarthen’s Matthew Stevens plays Alfie Burden before an all-Welsh clash between Dominic Dale and Daniel Wells at 7pm.
Neath’s Wells edged out former world number three James Wattana 4-3 in the qualifiers in Sheffield.
Last year’s beaten finalist Mark Selby is also in action against veteran Steve Davis and young star Judd Trump takes on Mike Dunn.
Defending champion Ding Junhai opens the tournament alongside Day and Liang Wenbo at 10.30am when he faces Dechawat Poomjaeng.
Ding received good support from Chinese fans in Newport last year and hopes he’ll get plenty of backing again this time.
“It’s great to go to different places and see the Chinese fans supporting me,” he said.
“It means a lot to me that they come to the venues to watch me play and cheer me on.” A new structure for the world ranking event meant that only the top four seeds – Ding, Selby, Trump and Higgins – plus the top four Welsh players – Williams, Stevens, Day and Dale – were guaranteed a place at the venue.
All other players had to go through the qualifiers, which finished on Saturday night.
Former World and Masters champion Neil Robertson had a tough match against up-and-coming Welsh player Duane Jones, coming from 2-1 down to win 4-3. The Australian will now face Ian Burns in Newport.
Shaun Murphy scored a 4-2 win over Thepchiaya Un-Nooh to set up a match with India’s Pankaj Advani, while snooker legend Davis beat Kurt Maflin 4-2 to earn a meeting with world number one Selby.
The BBC Wales and Eurosport-televised tournament runs until Sunday.
All-day tickets start at just £12 and fans can buy tickets for any three individual weekday sessions for just £20. To book call 01633 656 757.