Stunning scorelines in the opening round of the Players Championship
Mark Allen won last year but is absent this time around (photo: World Snooker)

Stunning scorelines in the opening round of the Players Championship

Six players lost by at least three frames as sixteen prospects were narrowed down to eight.

Chris Lincoln

Narrow the field down to sixteen of the best players in the World and you would expect a flurry of close encounters. Yet the opening round of the Players Championship proved just the opposite as the day's action was over in a flash.

Mixed performances by form players

Barry Hawkins has been in great shape since the turn of the year but failed to even register a frame as he was whitewashed by Neil Robertson. Hawkins made a double of contributions above 60 in the opening three frames but lost by minimal margins in each. Robertson managed breaks of 65 and 83, before a terrific 123 in the fourth frame on his way to a 5-0 success.

Anthony Hamilton has been just as impressive as Hawkins in 2017 but was able to continue his form to produce arguably the shock result of the opening round. Breaks of 131 and 105 helped him to an early 3-0 lead over Stuart Bingham, before the pair exchanged tight tactical frames. Hamilton then sealed victory with a 59 as he stunned the 2015 World Champion 5-1.

Anthony McGill also fell by the same scoreline to Marco Fu, with the Hong Kong number one securing breaks of 94, 53 and 56.

O'Sullivan and Trump in great form

The performance of the opening set of matches arguably fell to Ronnie O'Sullivan. His opponent Liang Wenbo made a break of 52 in the first frame, only to be trumped by a 72 from O'Sullivan. Wenbo struck back to draw level in the second, only to see the Rocket light the fuse with unstoppable contributions of 65, 118, 101 and 71.

Judd Trump was also in top form as he defeated Mark King 5-2. A 63 was followed by a 132 as Trump set the highest break of the competition thus far. He established a 3-0 lead before King pulled two frames back despite another half century from his opponent. Trump then accelerated away with a 73 and 63 as he matched O'Sullivan's five breaks of more than 50. The pair meet in the last eight.

Trump and O'Sullivan should produce an exciting contest (photo: Getty Images)
Trump and O'Sullivan should produce an exciting contest (photo: Getty Images)

Selby, Carter and Higgins come through tight contests

Mark Selby and Ryan Day played out an epic contest in a rare close encounter. The pair took it in turns to win two frames apiece, Selby scoring between 50 and 91 on four occasions and Day contributing three such breaks. Yet it was to be the World number one who held his nerve in a final frame decider to progress.

Ali Carter was eventually victorious as he traded blows with Shaun Murphy with the duo contributing three century breaks to a tight contest. Carter opened with 115, before Murphy responded immediately with 110 to draw level. The pair then exchanged frames throughout, Carter scoring 107 in the fifth, before the underdog ran out the victor in a final frame decider. 

John Higgins looked to be easing into the final eight as he took a commanding 4-0 lead against Ding Junhui with breaks of 70 and 68 along the way. Yet the Scotsman struggled to see the contest over the line as Ding worked his way back into the match one frame at a time. Breaks of 83, 67 and 107 helped the China number one draw level before Higgins eventually held his nerve in a final frame decider.

It leaves the quarter-finals reading as follows:

Mark Selby v Marco Fu 
John Higgins v Anthony Hamilton
Neil Robertson v Ali Carter  
Ronnie O'Sullivan v Judd Trump