A thing you often find with a tournament like this is that the whole tone for how the week will go can be set on how the matches the first day play out.If the opening games are tight and nervy it can lead to a few days of tense encounters but on the flip side if the opening match's are high in quality it sets the bar for the others to aim for.If this theory holds true we are in for a very memorable week as both sessions today produced snooker of the highest quality.
First up this afternoon was defending champion Neil Robertson against the 2010 champion Ding Junhui.This one always promised to be a classic on paper and so it proved as both men produced some fabulous stuff.
First out of the blocks was Robertson with a clinical kill to take frame one and showing just how up for this he was he clinched frame two and gave his characteristic fist pump.I'm not a fan of this type of thing to be honest but I suppose many will argue it's a good thing to see players show emotion.I just think its not respectful to your opponent and if anything could be counterproductive as it surely must make them more determined to put you down.
Ding did begin to find his feet in the next with a century and also clinched the fourth to make it 2-2 at the interval.That became 3-3 before a tight 7th frame seemed to have swung the match Dings way as he took it to lead 4-3.That became 5-3 and the possibility of the defending champion going out in the first match looked a distinct possibility.
Robertson though has not got the reputation of been one of the hardest players on the circuit without good reason and he won the next to close to 5-4.Game on
We often hear in commentary that this is a game of fractions and so it proved in the next.Ding was in and only within a few shots of victory when he played a cannon off the blue to split the last remaining reds.He seemed to have played the shot perfectly only for the white to stop half a roll short of position.That was the end of break and as it happened the end of Dings Masters as Robertson showed all his steal to clear up and make it 5-5 before taking advantage of a poor break off in the decider to seal the win in one visit
Robertson can be very pleased with the bottle he showed to comeback against an opponent playing as well as Ding was and indeed Ding can take a lot from the match as he would have beaten many a player playing as he did this afternoon.
Robertsons opponent in the Quarter final will be Mark Allen after the Ulsterman overcame a determined Mark Davis 6-2 to advance through to the next round.This was another high quality match where both players were on it from the get go.Allen clinched the opener with a superb 136 before Davis leveled to make it 1-1.That became 2-2 at the interval with pot success rates of 97% for Allen and 96% for Davis.
After the interval though things began to change slightly as Allen started to take a grip on the match and Davis began to miss a few.Allen took the next two frames to make it 4-2.Davis needed to make something happen quickly or this match was going to get away from him but although he had his chances in the 7th it was Allen who won it to make 5-2.
He needed now only one more frame for victory and took full advantage of a foul from Davis in the next to seal an impressive victory.He will take a bit of stopping this week on this form.
So that was the story of Day One but we barely have time to catch our breathe as Day two begins tomorrow afternoon with the tours two most recent winners from last weeks championship league tournaments John Higgins and Ali Carter doing battle and the evening bringing together Stephen Maguire and Graeme Dott.It promises to be another great day.