Day One of the Gdynia Open: The race to win the European Tour

The Polish leg of the European Tour gets into full swing as a 12 year old talent makes a name for himself.

Day One of the Gdynia Open: The race to win the European Tour
Antoni Kowalski looks to be a star of the future (photo: World Snooker)

After a gruelling three qualifying matches for the amateurs, it was down to business for half of the final 128 as Round one began in Gdynia.

Yet a headline had already been made with Polish youngster Antoni Kowalski forming a break of 71 on his way to defeating Liam Taylor in the first qualifying stage. Unfortunately the talent could not progress any further, but it was a great story for the 12 year old who can barely see over the table.

Everything to play for on the Order of Merit

The tournament is the sixth and final competition on the European Tour, with the top 24 on the Order of Merit come Sunday guaranteed a place in the Players Championship. With the tournament consisting of one half of players completing their first three rounds of matches on Friday and the other half following suit on Saturday, first place Barry Hawkins does not begin his campaign to cement his position until day two.

On a busy opening day, third place Marco Fu began proceedings with a comfortable victory over Vinnie Calabrese. In the pick of the Round One ties, Luca Brecel and Dechawat Poomjaeng overcame Joe Swail and Alan McManus respectively. Sam Baird whitewashed amateur Joshua Baddeley, whilst Kowalski's nemesis Richard Beckham completed a career best 133 break to defeat Chris Wakelin.

Marco Fu could be a contender 

As morning switched to afternoon, Rod Lawler became the 56th player to make over 100 century breaks, but his tournament high of 139 was not enough to beat David Morris. Stephen Maguire defeated Matthew Stevens in another intriguing encounter, whilst Marco Fu and Matthew Selt won 4-0 in their Round Two matches.

Fu later went on to record the same result against Selt himself, after World number one Mark Selby knocked John Higgins out of Round 2. Selby was later one of two men, alongside Mitchell Mann, to recover from 3-0 down as the pair defeated Luca Brecel and Rhys Clark respectively. As the day began to draw to a close, Englishmen Andrew Higginson and Sam Baird surprised Tian Pengfei and Michael White in Round Three.

The English had dominated the opening day as Mann, Selby, Baird, Higginson and Tom Ford progressed to Round Four, with either Mark King or Anthony Hamilton joining them as their match went late into the night, as did that of Rory McLeod, second in the standings, against Irishman Fergal O'Brien. With Marco Fu the only definite outside of England to make Sunday's matches, all eyes turn to Saturday where the likes of Barry Hawkins, Stuart Bingham, Mark Williams and Ding Junhui begin their campaigns.