Comebacks, deciders and surprises: 16 remain at the Snooker World Championship
Trump was made to work hard for his victory (photo: Getty Images)

Comebacks, deciders and surprises: 16 remain at the Snooker World Championship

Mark Allen joined Ronnie O'Sullivan and Luca Brecel as the three automatic qualifiers to fall at the first hurdle.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

The second set of first round fixtures at the Crucible was almost identical to what unfolded during a thrilling weekend of potting entertainment.

One thrashing, a couple of final frame deciders and two surprise results kept the momentum accelerating throughout the week's action.

Trump survives scare

After Ronnie O'Sullivan's staggering exit to amateur James Cahill, the World Championship was blown wide open for a whole host of players to take advantage.

One man looking to finally fulfil his championship winning potential is Judd Trump, after reaching at least the quarter-final stage in five of the last eight Crucible fortnights. Yet he found life extremely difficult against the talented Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, winner of this season's Shoot-Out.

In a fast-paced contest, both players averaging shot times under 20 seconds, the man from Thailand blasted into a 6-3 lead, despite a break of 141 by Trump in frame five. Yet the favourite won six of the next eight frames before being forced into a decider.

Thepchaiya looked to have an opening but a miscue cost his place in the next round, the 34-year old slumping into his seat distraught. Ding Junhui next for Trump in a mouth-watering last 16 contest.

Bingham just holds on after unlikely frame concede

Whilst Trump's comeback was not unexpected, Graeme Dott's perhaps was, particularly after being 8-1 and 9-4 behind against Stuart Bingham.

Dott won the tournament 13 years ago but has only reached two competition finals since 2012, losing both. It prompted the Scotsman to explain pre-tournament that he was "fed up of people asking him if he still played snooker".

Clearly fired up, particularly after a series of Bingham flukes, Dott worked his way to a decider in a comeback that included an astonishing end to frame 16. With only one ball potted and plenty of reds to be seen, Bingham missed all the balls with three successive safety shots, conceding the frame.

But a miss by Dott on a relatively straightforward black in frame 19 opened the door for Bingham to squeeze through, a meeting with John Higgins his reward in the next round.

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Mixed emotions for Chinese stars

Yet there wasn't to be a similar Dott-style response from Li Hang as he added to a dreadful opening round for the Asian contingent.

The Chinese player became the fourth of six players from the continent to depart, hammered 10-1 by Barry Hawkins despite the number nine seed not formulating one century break.

However, Zhou Yuelong will join Ding in round two, undeterred by the toughest draw of his compatriots. Facing Mark Allen, Zhou appeared to be staring down the barrel of an opening frame defeat to the Northern Irishman. Yet he recovered with the two snookers he required to get his name on the scorecard first and that gave the world number 35 the momentum he needed for the rest of the contest.

Numerous half centuries followed as Zhou won the first five frames before opening a staggering 9-2 lead. Allen did stage a mini comeback before eventually being downed 10-7.

Carter and Gilbert defeat closely ranked opponents

Zhou will face Ali Carter in the next round in a result that will go down as a surprise but purely only because of the rankings.

Since making his Crucible debut in 2003, qualifier Carter has not missed a single World Championship, finishing runner-up twice. His opponent, Jack Lisowski, had finally shown the talent many knew he was capable of during an impressive season but made a handful of costly errors against the veteran.

At 2-2, the runner-up in three tournaments this year was fighting hard but Carter showed his usual grit to race into a 9-4 lead. The 39-year old was to miss what would have been a match-winning black in frame 14 but recovered to eventually win 10-6.

Such is the way the rankings work, Joe Perry had to play three qualifiers to get to the Crucible whilst his opponent, David Gilbert, was awarded his place automatically despite only two places separating the pair.

Gilbert was to reach the second round for just the second time in five attempts since 2007 but almost buckled despite taking a 4-0 lead. Perry worked his way back to 8-7 but lost two late frames to fall at the first hurdle for the seventh time in his career. He plays the world champion next.

Wilson last man through as second round begins

Meanwhile, Kyren Wilson, who won his second, third and fourth tournaments of his career this season, comfortably saw off Scott Donaldson 10-4. Despite his dominance on the scoreboard, Wilson only made three half century breaks until the penultimate frame where he recorded just as many 50+ centuries in the last two frames.

A meeting with Hawkins now awaits.

The second round also started with Neil Robertson on fire. In arguably the form of his life since winning the World Championship almost a decade ago, Robertson secured the first three frames without opponent Shaun Murphy potting a ball. Yet the world number 13 battled back to 3-5 at the close of play, both players boasting two century breaks apiece.

Elsewhere, Mark Selby finds himself locked in another tight battle after a first round scare - Selby's struggles underpinned by an average shot time of 30 seconds. Gary Wilson, who came through a final frame decider in the opening round, stole the last battle of the session after a handful of Selby misses to lead overnight at 5-3.

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