In line with the way the season has panned out, full of surprises and inconsistent results, Hamza Akbar, Nigel Bond and Chris Wakelin pulled off stunning results to beat higher ranked opponents in the first qualifying round for the World Championships.
Akbar grinds out his first success of the season
22 year old Akbar is ranked 122nd in the world, but the only player from Pakistan in the competition chose the right time to win his first professional match of the season, as he saw off Jamie Jones ranked 89 places above him. In a match bereft of quality, Akbar ran away 10-5 in his ninth game of the season, putting together just one break over 50. Australian Open semi-finalist Jones did show some quality with a 125 break, but the damage had already been done as he struggled to recover from 8-2 behind.
50 year old Nigel Bond has seen it all during an established career, but very few people gave the world number 95 a chance against Andrew Higginson 46 places above him. Yet Bond proved his credentials once more as he secured a 5-2 advantage. Higginson fought back with some excellent scoring, including a 135 break in the eight frame, but Bond drew upon all of his experience to win a final frame decider as he set about his business in the tournament he finished runner-up in 21 years ago.
Chris Wakelin, ranked 84th, fought hard into the night as he stunned world number 25 Ben Woollaston with a 10-9 victory just before midnight. Woollaston has reached four ranking quarter-finals and a semi-final this year but could not overcome the first qualifying round, despite only needing one more frame at 9-7.
Akbar faces Ian Burns in the second qualifying round after he defeated Duane Jones 10-8. Bond takes on Gary Wilson who eased past amateur Leo Fernandez 10-4. Wakelin has a difficult looking tie against Anthony Hamilton next, who created two 147 opportunities with some excellent tactical play in his 10-3 drubbing of Sydney Wilson. Ross Muir, 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon, Robbie Williams and Mark Joyce also made it through on the opening day.
Tough day for female hopeful Ng On Yee
A number of ties are left firmly in the balance after their first session on Wednesday, with 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott, leading amateur Brandon Sargeant by just one frame. Six time runner-up Jimmy White is 5-4 behind despite leading 4-2 at one stage against Gerard Greene, whilst the solitary female competitor, Ng On Yee, is 9-0 down to Peter Lines after a busy day that saw her finish runner-up to Reanne Evans in the Women's World Championship.