Neil Robertson made a winning start to the WST Classic in Leicester on Thursday courtesy of a 4-2 victory over Luke Simmonds that included two trademark century breaks.
The 2010 world champion enjoyed knocks of 100, 99, 61 and 103 as he overpowered the former Cornwall professional, who restored parity at 1-1 with a run of 67 in the second frame, to secure a last-64 encounter with Oliver Lines at the Morningside Arena.
Robertson needs to win the inaugural WST Classic to have any chance of qualifying and defending the Tour Championship in Hull at the end of the month, an event he has won twice over the past two years.
Jack Lisowski is himself chasing a run to the quarter-finals to remain in contention for the elite Tour tournament and was forced to survive a final-frame decider against Louis Heathcote in a 4-3 success.
The six-time ranking finalist finished with a sparkling 129 run after earlier compiling 76 and 101 to lead 3-1. Leicester’s world No. 74 Heathcote levelled with 68 before forcing the match the distance only to sit out the final frame without scoring.
‘They all count!’ – Lisowski gets lucky with big fluke
Lisowski will meet Si Jiahui for a last-32 spot after his 4-2 win over Dominic Dale.
“Do I deserve to be in it (the Tour Championship)? I’ve had so many good chances,” said Lisowski on World Snooker Tour. “I’ve only got myself to blame and will be doing as well as I can in this tournament.
“When you see players collapse, it is because they are normally trying to win so desperately. Because they want some result to go their way or whatever..some rankings thing.
“That doesn’t work for me. I’m just going to try my best this tournament and try to make it to the final day which will be quickfire stuff. And I’ll try to win the thing.”
One player who is assured of his spot in Hull is Northern Irishman Mark Allen, who tops the one-year ranking list after glorious tournament wins at the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship and World Grand Prix this season so far.
He completed a comfortable 4-0 win against Peter Lines, who lost the second frame despite making a 51 knock.
Scotland’s 2020 world semi-finalist Anthony McGill produced the highest break of the day with a delightful 135 run in a 4-0 dismissal of Peng Yisong.
The 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham ran out a 4-0 winner against former women’s world champion Ng On Yee with a 109 in the opening frame his best return.
Bingham cannot qualify for the Tour Championship, but is looking to play himself into form ahead of the 47th World Championship next month.
He will meet two-time world finalist Matthew Stevens in the last 64 after he got the better of Victor Sarkis.
WST Classic: Thursday’s first round results
- Jack Lisowski 4-3 Louis Heathcote
- Dominic Dale 2-4 Si Jiahui
- Pang Junxu 4-2 Jenson Kendrick
- Lyu Haotian 4-1 Michael Judge
- Noppon Saengkham 4-3 Ian Burns
- Fan Zhengyi 4-0 Andres Petrov
- Stuart Bingham 4-0 Ng On Yee
- Anthony McGill 4-0 Peng Yisong
- Joe O’Connor 4-1 Jamie O’Neill
- Oliver Lines 4-0 Mitchell Mann
- Neil Robertson 4-2 Luke Simmonds
- Matthew Stevens 4-1 Victor Sarkis
- Ben Woollaston 4-2 Dylan Emery
- Hossein Vafaei 4-2 John J Astley
- Scott Donaldson 4-2 Zak Surety
- Barry Hawkins 4-0 Barry Pinches
- Ricky Walden 1-4 Ben Mertens
- Mark Allen 4-0 Peter Lines
- Mark Davis 2-2 Fergal O’Brien
- Martin Gould 2-1 Andrew Higginson
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