Day five at the dafabet World Championship and as the first round started to draw to a conclusion,the search for the player who might challenge the dominance of O'Sullivan here continued.
One thing for sure is,if that player is to be Judd Trump,he will have to improve greatly on what we have seen from him in his 10-8 victory today over Tom Ford.
After yesterdays hard fought first session,which had to be called ashore a frame early,it was Trump who started the day with a 6-2 lead,but in a session where it took Trump the guts of an hour to pot his first ball,it was Ford who made the running to close to within one at 6-5.He really could have leveled it up in the next ,but Trump managed to pull himself together enough to restore his two frame lead at 7-5.
The next two frames were shared to leave it 8-6,before Ford rallied again to level things up at 8-8.Another shock was certainly on the cards now and more worryingly for Trump it wasn't as if Ford was winning these frames in one visit.Into the 17th and both players again had chances,before Trump edged ahead again at 9-8.Victory came in the next as he took it to record a 10-8 win.
The old adage that as long as your still in the tournament you still have the chance to improve,most certainly applies to Trump here,but my God ho is going to have to if he is to stand a chance of going one better than he did in 2011 & lifting the title.
When all this was going on,on the other side of the screen Barry Hawkins was resuming with a 5-4 lead over David Gilbert having rallied late on in the first session,winning the last three from 4-2 behind to hold that overnight lead.
This run of frames for Hawkins was to continue,as Gilbert spurned three good chances to take the opening frame,allowing Hawkins to pounce with a 93 to make it 6-4. From here further contributions of 50,71 &53 saw Hawkins run away with this one and record an impressive 10-4 win over what looked a tricky opponent.
His second round opponent,in a repeat of last years semi final will be Ricky Walden
Another tie that looked tough on paper was the meeting of Marco Fu & Martin Gould. but it was the seed from Hong Kong who prevailed 10-7 in what was arguably the best match we've seen standardwise this week.
After the first session Fu lead 6-3,but Gould got out of the blocks here with a 66 to make it 6-4.Fu though,who has enjoyed a wondeful season,hit back immediately with breaks of 88 & 114 to lead 8-4. Back Gould came again to close to 8-6 before Fu won the next to go 9-6.A 69 clearance from Gould reduced the deficit to 9-7,but a run of 80 sealed the win for Fu to set up a mouth watering second round tie with Shaun Murphy.
In the other match completed today Mark Allen secured a first round win here for the first time in three years as he won all five frames played tonight to convert his 5-4 overnight lead into a 10-4 victory over Michael Holt. The standard in this one was once again not of the level we would expect from these two men,but Allen will be happy to be through,not least because he suffered a bout of food poisoning on the eve of the match.
This leaves two matches outstanding in round one,but it looks only a matter of dotting the i's & crossing the t's as Neil Robertson and Dominic Dale both hold 7-2 leads over Robbie Willliams & Mark Davis respectively
In other news today the big announcement from Barry Hearn turned out to be not as earth shattering as some had feared as he announced that the World Championship matches would remain best of 19 minimum for all rounds and that the top 16 would still automatically qualify for the Crucible.The big change was the news that the qualifiers would be decided by a flat draw for those ranked 17 to 144 with all former champions welcome to enter.
Also on this subject,the legends wildcards that had been touted didn't materialize,but instead we have places been made available for up to four multiple tournament winners if the full 128 places in the draw aren't filled .This of course raises the possibility of seeing Davis and Hendry still competing o the circuit should they so choose.
In other changes,the only two remaining ranking events on the circuit that don't use the flat 128 draw The Shanghai Masters & the Australian Open will both revert to this when their new contracts come into force over the next two years.
Finally he also announced that Latvia will also host its first European Tour event this coming. August.
Tomorrow see's the end of round one and of course the start of the best of 25 frame second round matches with \Ronnie O'Sullivan again in action