First up this afternoon Mark Allen eventually saw off John Higgins 6-4,but had to be near his best to do so as both players at times produced their best snooker.
Higgins has suffered from a severe lack of confidence of late,but was quickly out of the blocks here,producing his very best stuff,to take the opening two frames with runs of 104 & 132.
Into frame three and it was Allens turn to trouble the scorer with a fine century of his own,this time a 121,to make it 2-1 and when Higgins failed to kill frame four off,despite a 59 break Allen leveled it at 2-2 going to the interval.
Allen also took frame five,but we were to be level again as a 96 from Higgins made it 3-3.This was snooker of the highest quality and an 88 from Allen edged him ahead again 4-3. That really should have become 4-4 in the eighth ,but in what was to be the key moment in the match Allen got the snooker he required on the last red and cleared to go 5-3 ahead.
There was still time for a 147 attempt from Higgins in frame nine that ended on 120 when he missed the yellow,but there to be no deciding frame shoot out as Allen took the next to seal a 6-4 win.
So what a match it was and hopefully,even in defeat,Higgins can still take the positives from a excellent display as he looks to secure his place in the top 16 for the Crucible over the next couple of months.
As for Allen I've always felt that if he is to win one of our "Majors" that it would be the Masters. Why can't it be this year?
In the last of the first round round matches Ding Junhui's miserable season continued as he crashed out 6-3 to Joe Perry.
Ding has looked a long way short of the player who claimed five ranking titles last season so far this term and got off to a poor stat here as Perry took an early 3-1 lead.
After the interval Ding started to show signs of coming to life,as he quickly closed the gap to 3-2. Quitehow he managed to lose the next frame though will no doubt haunt him as he tries to get to sleep tonight,but from a position of being 34 ahead with 25 on the table he not only conspired to hit the black in a failed escape from a snooker,but also left a free ball which Perry took before clearing the table to make it 4-2.
Ding did manage to steal the next on the black,but couldn't get a proper run going and Perry went on to seal the match and book his place in the Masters quarter finals for the first time at the seventh time of asking.
Tomorrow see's the start of those quarter finals with first up in the afternoon Ronnie O'Sullivan v Marco Fu and in the evening Ali Carter v Neil Robertson.